Thursday, May 11, 2017

Sayy Yates summary

Robert Reich

Today former acting attorney general Sally Yates told the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism that on Jan. 26 and 27 she warned White House counsel Don McGahn that Michael Flynn, then Trump’s national security adviser, had engaged in “problematic” conduct with the Russians. The Russians, she added, “also knew about what Gen. Flynn had done, and the Russians also knew that Gen. Flynn had misled the vice-president and others.” As a result, she went on, the Russians likely had information that created a situation “where the National Security Advisor could be blackmailed by the Russians.”

Note the sequence of events:
1. On December 29, Obama announces retaliation for Russian hacking of the U.S. elections.
2. That same day, Trump aide Michael Flynn phones Russian Ambassador Kislyak several times.
3. Subsequently, Flynn publicly lies about the call (and also lies about it to Vice President elect Pence).
4. U.S. intelligence agencies have heard Flynn's call, and know of Flynn's lies. They contact Yates, who's then the key Justice Department Official in charge, because they're concerned that Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians.
5. On January 26 and January 27, Yates warns the White House about Flynn's lies.
6. Trump immediately fires Yates.
7. Two weeks later, Trump fires Flynn as his national security adviser (formally, Flynn resigns).
8. This morning, Trump is so determined to deflect attention from what Yates would say that he suggests she was the one who committed a crime – tweeting “Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.” (Today, Yates and Clapper both testified that they did not know how the reports about Flynn made their way into the Post.)

The likeliest explanation for this sequence of events is Trump ordered Flynn to call Kislyak on December 29 in order to assure the Russians that Trump was behind them and grateful for their hacking, despite Obama's retaliation.

What do you think?


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