USA

Trump deflects amid questions over adviser’s lies

Donald Trump has attempted to deflect attention away from questions over his sacking of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying prosecutors should instead focus on Hillary Clinton.

The US President is facing claims he obstructed justice after appearing to confirm for the first time that he knew Flynn lied to the FBI over conversations with Moscow's ambassador to the US.

Mr Trump has tweeted that he fired the retired three-star general "because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI" – however at the time of the dismissal the White House acknowledged only that Flynn had lied to VP Mike Pence.

Amid allegations the President tried to pressure ex-FBI director James Comey "to let Flynn go" after learning that the security adviser lied to agents, Mr Trump has said he "never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn".

Video:Trump: 'absolutely no collusion' with Russia

He earlier sought to shift the focus onto his former election opponent, tweeting: "General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while Crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday 'interrogation' with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times…and nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?

"Many people in our country are asking what the 'Justice' Department is going to do about the fact that totally Crooked Hillary, AFTER receiving a subpoena from the United States Congress, deleted and 'acid washed' 33,000 Emails? No justice!"

Sources close to Mr Trump distanced the President from his first tweet about Flynn's sacking, saying it was "crafted" by John Dowd, one of the President's personal lawyers.

Mr Dowd declined to comment on the claim, but said the tweet "was a paraphrase" of an FBI statement released after Flynn pleaded guilty to making a false statement.

In the wake of the President's latest comments, Mr Comey posted a cryptic message on Instagram which read: "Three things cannot be long hidden: the Sun; the Moon; and the truth."

Meanwhile, senior Democrats tore apart Mr Trump's account of why he sacked Michael Flynn.

Congressman Ted Lieu tweeted: "THIS IS OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. @POTUS now admits he KNEW Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. Yet Trump tried to influence or stop the FBI investigation on #Flynn.

"Trump's folks are so freaked out by @realDonaldTrump tweet that establishes Obstruction of Justice that they are trying to blame lawyer Dowd. If true, they should fire him for malpractice. But it doesn't absolve Trump. If lawyer drafts X & I say X, then I have adopted X as my own."

Fellow California congressman Adam Schiff asked the President that if he knew Flynn lied "why did you fail to act until his lies were publicly exposed?

"And why did you pressure Director Comey to 'let this go?'"

Court filings show Flynn faces six months in jail after agreeing a plea deal. The charge he pleaded guilty to carries a maximum sentence of five years.

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Mr Trump has insisted there was 'absolutely no collusion' between his campaign team and Russia
Image:Mr Trump has insisted there was 'absolutely no collusion' between his campaign team and Russia

As part of the plea agreement, Flynn has agreed to co-operate with the probe into alleged Russian meddling led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mr Trump told reporters on Saturday he was not worried about what Flynn may tell prosecutors, adding there was "absolutely no collusion"between his campaign team and Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

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