At a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump was asked about Michael Flynn, who resigned as national security adviser on Monday after it became clear that he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador weeks before Trump’s inauguration.
Trump retreated to familiar ground—attacking Hillary Clinton and the mainstream media. He also seemingly made a baffling mistake: He embraced Flynn, the guy he just fired for supposedly being untrustworthy.
“Michael Flynn–General Flynn—is a wonderful man. I think he’s been treated very, very unfairly by the media—as I call it, the fake media, in many cases,” Trump said. “I think it’s really a sad thing that he was treated so badly. From intelligence, papers are being leaked. Things are being leaked. It’s criminal action, a criminal act and its been going a long time, before me. But now it’s really going on. People are trying to cover up for a terrible loss the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton. I think it’s very, very unfair what’s happened to General Flynn.”
Instead of distancing himself from Flynn—who, it’s worth adding, may have committed a crime—Trump is pulling him in even closer. He is making the argument that Flynn is the victim of a tag-team attack by the media and the intelligence community. Not only that, they are doing this to “cover up” Hillary Clinton’s loss in November.
If this is true, why did Trump fire Flynn? Why didn’t he stand by his wrongly besieged adviser? Incredibly, Trump is once again contradicting his own staff’s attempts at damage control. Only a day ago, Sean Spicer said that Flynn was fired—a far cry from “Michael Flynn is a wonderful man.”
This would seem to get everything wrong about handling a political scandal. Instead of admitting an error or a mistake—or at least scapegoating someone who made an error or a mistake—Trump is hunkering down with the very person who is the source of all the controversy. Either the White House has no idea what it’s doing, or it is changing tactics after Flynn was already fired to blame the Deep State and the media.