If the first month of the Trump administration has seemed like a whirlwind, the last five days must be akin to an F-5 twister.
First on Friday President Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One that he wasn’t familiar with the report claiming Gen. Michael Flynn had discussed sanctions with a Russian official back in December – a report which was contrary to what Flynn had told Vice President Mike Pence in January – and would look in to it.
Then on Sunday, conflicting reports abounded. Trump adviser Stephen Miller gave NBC’s Chuck Todd his own version of “no comment”, saying that the White House had not given him any talking points on the subject. Adviser Kellyanne Conway stated that Flynn “does enjoy the full confidence of the president.” Later the administration told us that “The President is evaluating the situation”.
And just yesterday, we had the story of Flynn’s resignation. Then Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway went on Good Morning America to say that “Gen. Flynn, in the end, decided he was a lightning rod. He did not want to be a distraction and he tendered his resignation”, which certainly makes it seem as though Flynn came to the decision on his own.
It’s enough to make even the most jaded political junkie’s head spin. But it gets better …
Today we find out that it was actually the President’s idea for Flynn to resign.
“The president must have complete and unwavering trust for the person in that position,” he [WH Press Secretary Sean Spicer] continued. “The evolving and eroding level of trust as a result of this situation in a series of other questionable instances is what led the president to ask for general Flynn’s resignation.”
So the truth (as it exists for this moment) seems to be that because Flynn had shown himself to be untrustworthy over this and “a series of other questionable instances” – which no doubt every reporter inside the Beltway is now scrambling to dig up – the President asked for his resignation. Which, given Trump’s usual demeanor basically means that Flynn walked out of the meeting feeling much like a former contestant on The Apprentice. The higher-rated Trump version, of course.
Swirling around somewhere at the base of this huge vortex of true, partially true, misleading, and downright false information is the latest revelation that this all came to light as a result of an extended plot by government officials loyal to President Obama to bring Flynn down. Seriously, even John Grisham couldn’t make up plot twists like this.
Once the storm finally settles, there is a singular message that the Trump administration must take away from it. For a President who came in to office a month ago without the trust of approximately half the nation, this fiasco has done nothing but make things worse.
If the President wishes to maintain the trust of those who put him in office and gain trust from others, he’s got to get a handle on all his advisers, spokespeople, and inside sources to ensure that today’s statements will no longer conflict with either yesterday’s statements or tomorrow’s facts.