Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates started off her testimony by saying ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was a major national security liability, but the Republican Party’s only focus was on who was leaking information about his Russia dealings to the press.
This hearing was a partisan farce, and it proved that Republicans doesn’t give a damn about U.S. national security; its members are only concerned with protecting the Trump Administration. What Russian hacking of America’s 2016 election?
The GOP’s I-don’t-give-a-damn-about-Russian-interference started with Sen. Chuck Grassley complete disinterest in Yates’ concerns of Flynn’s misleading Vice-President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Instead of asking about why Yates or James Clapper, who was also a witness at the hearing, felt that Flynn may have compromised himself to the Russians, Grassley asked if either of them had been an anonymous source “about matters relating to Mr. Trump or his associates on Russia’s attempt to meddle in the election.”
They both said, in unequivocal terms, that they had not.
He also asked Yates and Clapper if either of them authorized their subordinates to serve as an anonymous source to the press concerning information about Trump or his associates. They again answered in the negative. All of Grassley’s questions focused on who was leaking information to the press about Trump’s potential ties to Russia. Basically, Grassley didn’t care about whether Putin flipped Flynn or not; he was concerned with media reports that tried to find out the truth of whether or not that was the case.
Yates had warned White House officials that Flynn mislead them about his communications with now deceased U.S. Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and that he was vulnerable to blackmail, according to a story published by the Washington Post back in February. Several high-ranking intelligence officials agreed with her assessment and encouraged her to notice the White House.
Trump eventually fired her for refusing to execute his immigration order, which essentially bans citizens from mostly Muslim nations from entering the United States. Though that may have been the primary reason, Yate’s dismissal was widely seen as ridding the government of a threat that could dig deeper into allegations Trump has engaged in improper dealings with the Kremlin. Yates has kept a very low profile since her ouster, but revelations about how much she knows of Trump’s Russia dealings have dogged his administration.
Today’s hearings, though, have done little to delve into that because the GOP members of the hearing were too busy interrogating Yates and Clapper instead of exploring if Trump is a Kremlin puppet.
Sen. John Cornyn focused on Yates’ refusal to enforce Trump’s travel ban, asking, “What is your authority to overrule the Office of Legal Counsel?”
She explained that the office’s job was to narrow in on whether some aspects of the order were lawful. It doesn’t focus on “intent and purpose,” which was her role as acting Attorney General. No matter how much Cornyn tried to re-litigate Trump’s order, which is in effect a Muslim ban, and expressed doubt over voting for her confirmation as the number two at Justice, Yates held her own by saying, “I made a determination that I believe it was unlawful. I also thought that it was inconsistent with principles of the Department of Justice. And I said no. And that’s what I promised you I would do. That’s what I did.”
But the GOP shenanigans got worse when Sen. Ted Cruz got up to bat. Instead of focusing on Russian interference, he grilled Yates on refusing to enforce Trump’s Muslim ban. Cruz, quite condescendingly, asked if she was familiar with the constitutional power of the Presidency and read a statute that affirms his authority.
In response, she ethered him.
“I am familiar with that and I am also familiar with an additional provision in the INA that says, ‘No person shall receive preference or be discriminated against in the issuance of a visa because of race, nationality or place of birth.”
If you didn’t watch the whole hearing, let me break down how it went in a nutshell: The GOP cared more about covering Donald Trump’s ass than it did about Russia trying to shake faith in our democracy. Republican members of the hearing didn’t ask tough questions about Flynn’s Russia contact because they really don’t want to know.
It was a partisan show hearing that revealed how little the Republicans care about America’s national security. Today was an opportunity for the GOP to prove how much they are the party of defense and national security.
Instead, they proved they are only concerned about protecting their political party. American security can go kick rocks.
CORRECTION: My bad. Confusing my dead Russian officials. Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak is not dead. My apologies.