Trump accuses Hillary Clinton of lying many times to the FBI as his lawyer claims a chairperson cannot stymie justice

Donald Trump said on Monday he” feels badly” for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI, and claimed without evidence that Hillary Clinton” lied many times” to the agency without consequences.

The president spoke after John Dowd, a lawyer who sought to take the blame for a Trump tweet which analysts said indicated the president was guilty of blockage of justice over Flynn's firing, offered a new defence of Trump's actions: the president cannot obstruct justice.

Trump's statements to reporters before a trip to Utah were the latest in a series of outbursts over the investigation into his campaign's alleged collusion with Russia, after Flynn's guilty plea and admission that he is cooperating with special attorney Robert Mueller.

” I feel badly for General Flynn ,” the president said.” I feel very badly. He's led a very strong life, and I feel very badly about it. I will say this: Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI and nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and it destroyed their own lives, and I think it's a shame .”

Trump added:” Hillary Clinton on 4 July weekend went to the FBI , not under oath- it was the most incredible thing anyone has ever seen- lied many times , nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and it's like- it ruined his life. It's very unfair .”

Quick guide

Michael Flynn and Russia: what we know so far

Michael Flynn is the fourth Donald Trump aide to face criminal charges in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election and any alleged collusion.

Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI-‘ stimulating false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements' about his contacts with Russia.

Flynn, as part of Trump's transition team between the November 2016 election and the January 2017 inauguration, had secret contact with the Russian ambassador on at least two topics – shaping US and Russian policy on sanctions, and attempting to influence a UN vote about Israeli settlement-building.

Flynn is cooperating with researchers, and under the terms of his bargain agreed to take polygraph lie-detector tests and appear as a witness in all relevant cases.

He admits that he discussed with another senior Trump transition official what he should say to the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

At least two members of the Trump transition team were briefed by him after his contact with Kislyak.

Flynn faces a maximum prison sentence of six months under the terms of his bargain and a penalty of up to $9,500.

While new information discloses secret contact with the Russians, it does not shed light on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia's interference in the US election.

Photograph: Susan Walsh/ AP

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