The major tell in Trump’s comments about a possible pardon for Michael Flynn

One word of Trump's response was particularly significant.


During a brief press scrum on Friday morning, President Trump was asked about if he would “consider a pardon for Michael Flynn.”

Flynn — Trump’s former national security adviser — recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russia during the transition period following last year’s presidential election. The guilty plea indicated Flynn is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia.

On Friday, Trump did not deny that he has considered a pardon for Flynn.

“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens, let’s see. I can say this — when you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.”

The word “yet” is particularly notable. By suggesting that he may eventually consider a pardon, Trump could be interpreted as indicating to Flynn that whether or not he gets one depends on the extent to which he protects Trump and his family.


The significance of the word was noted by Norm Eisen, former chief ethics counsel for Barack Obama, who pointed out that the president wielding his power to pardon to “dodge liability” is obstruction of justice.

Despite Flynn’s and former campaign adviser George Papadopoulos’ guilty pleas and the felony charges filed against former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign associate Rick Gates — all of which stem from Mueller’s investigation — during Friday’s scrum, Trump dismissed the Russia investigation as “a Democrat hoax… an excuse for losing the election.”

“Even the Democrats admit there is no collusion,” Trump claimed, falsely.