Yates / Clapper Hearing: Flynn In Deep Trouble But Still "No Evidence" Of Trump Collusion With Russia

Below is a summary of some of the key topics covered during today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with former DNI Director Clapper and Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

Yates On Flynn Warnings To The White House:

With regards to General Flynn, Yates testified that she had two in-person meetings and 1 phone call with the White House out of concerns that Vice President Pence was unknowingly making false statements in the media about Flynn's interactions with Russian officials...false statements that Yates alleged were the result of Flynn interntionally lying to the Vice President.

Yates also testified that "potential prosecution" of Flynn was discussed at the second in-person meeting at the White House.

*YATES: 2 IN-PERSON MEETINGS, ONE PHONE CALL WITH W.H. ON FLYNN

*YATES: TOLD WHITE HOUSE KNEW ACCOUNTS OF FLYNN CONDUCT UNTRUE

*YATES: GAVE WHITE HOUSE `FAIR AMOUNT' OF DETAIL ON FLYNN ACTS

*YATES: TOLD MCGAHN PENCE ENTITLED TO KNOW HE GOT FALSE INFO

*YATES: RUSSIAN KNOWLEDGE CREATED POTENTIAL BLACKMAIL SITUATION

*YATES: MCGAHN ASKED IF FLYNN SHOULD BE FIRED, SAID NOT HER CALL

*YATES: POTENTIAL PROSECUTION OF FLYNN DISCUSSED AT 2ND MEETING

 

And Yates' response to a question from White House Counsel McGahn as to why the DOJ was concerned whether one White House official lied to another White House official...in summary, Yates testified that the lack of transparency created a situation whereby Flynn was susceptible to "blackmail" from Russian agents who knew that he had lied to the White House and would need to protect that lie in order to keep his job.

 

Yates/Clapper On Collusion:

Senator Graham opened by asking both Clapper and Yates about whether either had intelligence that would confirm collusion between the Trump administration and the Kremlin.  Clapper once again said there is no evidence of such collusion and Yates refused to answer on the basis that such an answer would reveal classified information.

*CLAPPER: STILL TRUE HE DOESN'T KNOW OF TRUMP-RUSSIA COLLUSION

*YATES SAYS SHE CAN'T ANSWER QUESTION ABOUT POSSIBLE COLLUSION

*YATES CITES CLASSIFIED INFORMATION FOR DECLINING TO ANSWER

 

Yates and Clapper On Whether They've Ever Been An 'Anonymous' Source For The Media:

Both Yates and Clapper denied, under oath, ever being an anonymous source in press reports:

 

Travel Ban:

On Trump's travel ban, Yates testified that she instructed the DOJ to not defend the executive order because it was, at least in her opinion, "unlawful" and "unconstitutional". 

And while Yates seemingly scored a quick victory over Ted Cruz in Round 1 over the legality of her refusing to defend Trump's travel ban ....

...Senator Kennedy quickly came back and scored his own decisive victory in Round 2 by asking Yates very simply:  "who appointed you to the United States Supreme Court?"

 

Julian Assange On Clapper's Assertion That Hackers Only Targeted Democrats:

Meanwhile, here is Julian Assange's response to Clapper's assertion that hackers only targeted Democrats and never revealed sensitive information obtained from Republican targets. 

 

And Some Other Takeaways:

Director Clapper used his opening remarks to speculate that Russia "must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal expenditure of resources."

* * *

Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island opened with a very handy checklist detailing the "Russian Toolbox" for hacking the 2016 election.  It includes everything from "Propaganda, Fake News, Trolls, And Bots" to "Assassination and Political Violence."

Yates

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For those who missed it, here is our original preview from earlier today:

Moments from now, at 2:30PM EST, former Acting Attorney General  Sally Yates and Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will take the stand before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer more questions about the alleged "Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election." 

As we noted earlier, President Trump submitted his question list for the Senate panel earlier this morning via Twitter:

"Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council."

 

Meanwhile, the anchors at CNN decided to jump on the tweet as a form of "witness intimidation."  Per The Hill:

“Before I covered politics all the time, I used to cover the courts a lot. A lawyer would call that witness intimidation,” King, the host of "Inside Politics," said.

 

Bash agreed with that charge. “Completely. Look, I think that we have all been kind of desensitized, in some way, to his tweets and to his statements that are so out of the norm," Bash, the network's chief political correspondent, said. "This is beyond out of the norm. This is inappropriate."

 

"For the president of the United States to be this aggressive with somebody who used to work for him, who is coming before the United States Congress in sworn testimony hours later, is beyond the pale. It just is.”

 

Of course, Sally Yates is now most famous for her attempted "mutiny" back in late January when she refused to enforce President Trump's travel ban executive order.  Her insubordination got her fired within a matter of just a few hours and resulted in the following statement from the White House (see "Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Yates For "Betrayal"):

Statement on the Appointment of Dana Boente as Acting Attorney General

 

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

 

Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

 

It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.

 

Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.

 

"I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed. I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected," said Dana Boente, Acting Attorney General.

 

According to a CNN report from last week, Yates is set to testify that she told the White House that Flynn might have misled the administration about the content of his communications with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak weeks before he was finally relieved of his duties by the White House.

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates is prepared to testify before a Senate panel next week that she gave a forceful warning to the White House regarding then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn nearly three weeks before he was fired, contradicting the administration's version of events, sources familiar with her account tell CNN.

 

In a private meeting January 26, Yates told White House Counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was lying when he denied in public and private that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia in conversations with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak. Flynn's misleading comments, Yates said, made him potentially vulnerable to being compromised by Russia, according to sources familiar with her version of events. She expressed "serious concerns" to McGahn, making it clear -- without making a recommendation -- that Flynn could be fired.

Of course, Trump did subsequently fire Flynn in early February after reports he misled Vice President Pence and other White House officials about his conversations with Kislyak.

Tune in below for the fireworks: