Former acting Attorney General, Sally Yates testified in front of the Senate Judiciary committee on Monday regarding Yate’s findings that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about previous conversations with Russia’s U.S. Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. Along with Yates, former director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., also testified.
President Donald Trump fired Yates in late January after she refused to legitimize Trump’s controversial travel ban, barring entry for travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries.
1. What’s really going on?
Before her termination, Yates brought directed the White House’s attention in late January. Yates told Don McGahn, the White House’s top lawyer, that the FBI intercepted conversations between Flynn and Kislyak in regards to lifting the sanctions President Obama ordered against Russia for allegedly interfering with the 2016 election. Yates also warned White House officials that Flynn was susceptible to blackmail because he head mislead his former bosses about the details of his conversations with Kislyak.
2. Why should we care?
If you took a huge Venn diagram and placed Trump on one side and Russia on the other, the overlapping elements would include “collusion” (with a question mark), and the “2016 election.” The Judiciary Senate Committee’s job is to investigate and provide oversight “of the Department of Justice and the agencies under the Department’s jurisdiction, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security,” according to the Committee’s website.
3. What can we take away from Yates’ testimony?
Yates made it clear that she expected the White House to take action, however she remains unsure what the White House did with the information afterwards.
“We felt like it was critical that we get this information to the White House, in part because the vice president was making false statements to the public and because we believed that Gen. Flynn was possibly compromised,” she said. “We knew that was not a good situation, which is why we wanted to let the White House know about it.”
4. Yates’ epic burn of Ted Cruz (because we enjoy an eloquent read).
Sen. Ted Cruz tried it with Yates by reciting a statue that questioned Yates’ decision to not defend Trump’s travel ban. Mind you, Yates was there to discuss Flynn and Russia, but Cruz decided to shoot his shot anyway.
Yates collected Cruz together by citing a more recent statue that over-rided everything Cruz previously said. In other words, don’t come for Yates unless she sends for you.
5. What happens next?
The hearing came to a close around 5:40 p.m. ET after Sen. Lindsey Graham concluded the committee agreed that there was indeed Russian interference in the 2016 election. Graham also asked Clapper to provide more information on specific cases of “un-masking” in the future, CBS News reports.
Clapper and Yates warned the committee about Russia’s actions and argued that Congress should do more to educate the public on the tactics used to interfere in the past election.