If a new report about President Donald Trump passing words of reassurance to former national security adviser Michael Flynn is accurate, it could have serious implications in terms of the president's firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Flynn is reported to have told friends at a northern Virginia restaurant on April 25 that Trump sent him a message telling him to "stay strong," according to a report by Yahoo News on Thursday. The meal came on the same day Flynn was accused by House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings of failing to disclose payments he had received from Russia and Turkey.
Although Flynn didn't specify how he received that message from Trump, it plays into the larger scandal involving Trump allegedly asking Comey to "let this go," in reference to the ongoing FBI investigation into Flynn. Trump's critics are characterizing Trump's firing of Comey as an attempt at obstruction of justice by the president, with The New York Times writing that "taken together with the news of Mr. Comey’s memo and reports that Mr. Trump had tried to extract a loyalty pledge from him after learning about the Flynn investigation, it is hard not to see the outlines of an attempt by Mr. Trump to quash a criminal investigation that could reach into the highest levels of his campaign and administration."
Meanwhile Trump's supporters are claiming that his intentions were more innocent and that he merely wanted to help out a friend. One associate of Flynn told Yahoo News, "These are two men who bonded on the campaign trail. Flynn always believed that Trump would win. They were together so much during the campaign that Flynn became family. There has been zero sign of anything but supreme loyalty.”
It remains to be seen whether Trump reciprocated that loyalty to such a degree that he broke the law in order to protect Flynn — or, perhaps, whether Trump and Flynn both colluded with the Russian government in their alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
It doesn't help things that Flynn's lawyers are not being clear about the level of cooperation Flynn is willing to offer following a subpoena from the Senate Intelligence Committee.