Why did Trump try so hard to stop the investigation of Flynn?

Some solid analysis from Aaron Blake:

As top intelligence and law enforcement officials testify in front of Congress this week, one big question looms: Did President Trump attempt to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation?

It’s a question with all kinds of legal ins and outs and is very unlikely to be resolved in the next two days. But from a political and appearance perspective, Trump just suffered another major setback.

The Post’s Adam Entous reported late Tuesday night that Trump in March asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to intervene in the Russia investigation by asking then-FBI Director James Comey to back off the agency’s focus on Michael Flynn. Coats reportedly told associates about Trump’s request shortly afterward…

But here’s why the latest news is particularly bad for Trump: It erases any idea that the Comey request was just a one-off. We have now learned that Comey isn’t the only top official whom Trump approached in an effort to free Flynn from his investigation…

The question from there becomes why — why did Trump feel so strongly about getting Flynn off the hook? And there are basically two good answers to that question:

  1. Trump is excessively loyal to Michael Flynn, to a fault
  2. Trump fears what could come of the Flynn investigation…

As for Possibility No. 1, it’s worth noting that Trump is a notoriously fickle political operator with few true friends and bulletproof advisers. [emphases mine] He dispatched two of his chief campaign aides — Corey Lewandowski and Paul Manafort — when it suited him. And as president he has made pretty clear his unhappiness with top adviser Stephen K. Bannon and even, according to reports this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was way out front of almost every other congressional Republican in supporting Trump’s candidacy. He’s also distanced himself from longtime political confidant Roger Stone.

Put plainly: The president known for his “You’re fired” catchphrase as a reality TV star hasn’t exactly shown that excessive loyalty is among his chief faults. Could he perhaps be uniquely loyal to Flynn for some reason? It’s possible. But against this backdrop it would seem odd that Flynn would be the one Trump aide whom the president seems to be unwilling to toss under the bus when it made sense to, politically speaking…

Possibility No. 2 is the much worse option for the White House. If Trump isn’tburdened by some strangely large amount of loyalty to Flynn, that suggests he worries about what could come of an investigation into Flynn.

Honestly, at this point, even if it turns out Flynn has done literally nothing wrong with the Russians (there’s plenty of evidence he’s broken laws– lock him up!!), Trump’s behavior is clearly prosecutable as obstruction of justice and just plain wrong.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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