Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
Smirking Chimp
CJR Daily
consortium news


Daily Kos
Political Animal
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Scoobie Davis
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
Juan Cole
Rising Hegemon
Unqualified Offerings
Alas, A Blog
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
skippy the bush kangaroo
Crooked Timber
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
The Agonist

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 08/01/2014 - 09/01/2014 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 10/01/2014 - 11/01/2014 11/01/2014 - 12/01/2014 12/01/2014 - 01/01/2015 01/01/2015 - 02/01/2015 02/01/2015 - 03/01/2015 03/01/2015 - 04/01/2015 04/01/2015 - 05/01/2015 05/01/2015 - 06/01/2015 06/01/2015 - 07/01/2015 07/01/2015 - 08/01/2015 08/01/2015 - 09/01/2015 09/01/2015 - 10/01/2015 10/01/2015 - 11/01/2015 11/01/2015 - 12/01/2015 12/01/2015 - 01/01/2016 01/01/2016 - 02/01/2016 02/01/2016 - 03/01/2016 03/01/2016 - 04/01/2016 04/01/2016 - 05/01/2016 05/01/2016 - 06/01/2016 06/01/2016 - 07/01/2016 07/01/2016 - 08/01/2016 08/01/2016 - 09/01/2016 09/01/2016 - 10/01/2016 10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016 11/01/2016 - 12/01/2016 12/01/2016 - 01/01/2017 01/01/2017 - 02/01/2017 02/01/2017 - 03/01/2017 03/01/2017 - 04/01/2017 04/01/2017 - 05/01/2017 05/01/2017 - 06/01/2017 06/01/2017 - 07/01/2017


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Tuesday, May 09, 2017


Sally lays it down

by Tom Sullivan

The guts of yesterday's Yates-Clapper testimony from the Washington Post:

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified Monday that she expected White House officials to “take action’’ on her January warning that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn could be blackmailed by Russia, offering her first public statements about the national security concerns that rocked the early days of the Trump administration.

Yates’s testimony to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee capped months of debate over her role in the ouster of Flynn, a retired general who stayed on at the White House for 18 days after Yates’s warning.
“[T]o state the obvious, you don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians,” Yates testified. One preliminary conclusion to draw from the testimony is Trump didn't care.

The transcript is here.

There is plenty of other coverage of the Senate's hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 elections, as well as of the standard-issue GOP buffoonery we have come to expect. (Do watch former acting attorney general Sally Yates dismantle Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.) But a few moments went by in the testimony yesterday by Yates and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper that have received little attention.

It suffices to say, Republican senators on the panel were less interested in Russian interference in U.S. elections than in changing the subject. Much of their time was spent firing pointed questions at Sally Yates for defying President Trump's travel ban because she (and subsequent court decisions) determined it to be unlawful. As Yates herself and Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy reminded them, during her confirmation hearings she had promised Republicans she would do defy the president if a similar situation arose under then-President Obama.

Another subject of at least Russia-related focus was the subject of U.S. persons' communications being incidentally captured by U.S. intelligence services because they were communicating with foreign targets. The names of non-targeted U.S. persons are typically redacted. Republicans wanted to know if anyone had requested unmasking of members of the 2016 presidential campaigns. Republican chair, Sen. Lindsay Graham (S.C.) started off the "lightning round" by trying to find out who leaked Flynn information to the Washington Post. He wanted to know who had the authority to unmask sensitive intercepts:
GRAHAM: OK. Now about surveillance, this is very important, an American citizen cannot be surveilled in the United States for colluding with a foreign government unless you have a warrant. Is that a true statement of the law?

YATES: That's right.

GRAHAM: Is it fair to say that incidental collection occurs, even in the united States?

YATES: That's correct as well, yes.

GRAHAM: OK. So there's two situations that we would have found out what General Flynn said to the Russian bastard. If there was a FISA warrant focused on him, was there?

YATES: You asking?

GRAHAM: Yes, either one of you.

YATES: Again I think you know I'm not going to answer whether there was a FISA warrant. Nor am I even going to talk about whether General Flynn was talking to the Russians.


CLAPPER: Oh I have to obviously going to go along with ...

GRAHAM [YATES WaPo transcript is wrong here]: Well if he wasn't talking to the Russians, we've had a hearing for no good reason. So clearly he's talking to the Russians and we know about it. So if there is no FISA warrant, and I'm going to find out about this by the way. The other way that we knew what he was talking about, the Russia (inaudible) was incidentally surveilled. So those were the two options. Do we know who unmasked the conversation between the Russian ambassador and General Flynn? Was there unmasking in this situation?

CLAPPER: Are you looking at me?

GRAHAM: Yes sir.

CLAPPER: I don't know.

GRAHAM: Do you Ms. Yates?

YATES: I can't speak to this specific situation. But can I try to clarify one point on this unmasking thing?

GRAHAM: Very quickly.

YATES: OK I'll try to do it quickly. As a consumer of intelligence I would -- for example, I would receive intelligence reports from various agencies.

GRAHAM: I get that, no.

YATES: Now often times the names are already unmasked by the intelligence agencies ...

GRAHAM: The bottom line here is I want to know how it got to the Washington Post. Somebody had to have access to the information and they gave it to the Washington Post, is that a fair statement?

YATES: That's right. That's what it looks like to me.

GRAHAM: Is that right General Clapper?


GRAHAM: And it was -- neither one of you did it?

YATES: That's right.

CLAPPER: That's right.

GRAHAM: How many people can request unmasking of American citizen in our government, General Clapper, how many?

CLAPPER: I don't have an exact number. It's I think fairly limited, because it's a -- normally fairly high level officials.

GRAHAM: How did you know that General Flynn was talking to the Russian's who told you?

YATES: And I can't reveal that in an open setting. But what I was trying to say was, is that often times we receive intelligence reports where the name of the American citizen is already unmasked, and it's unmasked by the intel agency because, not based on anybody's request, but because the name of that citizen is essential.

GRAHAM: Is that the situation here?

YATES: I can't -- Senator, I cannot...


GRAHAM: Thank you. My four minutes is up. Thank you both. But I want to know the answer to these questions.
The GOP is looking for an a) "fairly high level officials" from the Obama White House they can accuse of poking around for dirt in the intercepted communications of members of the Republican presidential campaign or transition team, who then b) leaked the incriminating information on Flynn to the press. Graham wants the records of who requested unmasking. What Yates implies (twice) is that nobody unmasked Flynn's name. The transcripts arrived that way from the intelligence services who thought it essential to pass on. Which suggests the leak might have come from further upstream. And which has little to do with Russian election meddling, the ostensible reason for the hearing.

The elephant in the room is named Jared Kushner. His name (and Trump's sons names) went unmentioned, but not unnoticed by Sen. Al Franken. He wondered why Trump took no action on Flynn until the Washington Post revealed his contacts with the Russians. It was a lengthy series of rhetorical questions not aimed at eliciting an answer:
FRANKEN: This is -- General Flynn after that, for 18 days stayed there and was in one classified thing after another. There are policies that deal with who gets clearance, security clearance and not.

The executive order 12968 outlines the rules for security clearances and says that when there is a credible allegation that raises concern about someone's fitness to access classified information, that person's clearance should be suspended, pending investigations, is that right?

The executive order also states that clearance holders must always demonstrate, quote, "trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion and sound judgment, as well as freedom from allegiances and potential for coercion." Is that right?

And yet, the White House Council did not understand why the Department of Justice was concerned.

YATES: Well, to be fair to Mr. McGahn, I think the issue that he raised, he wasn't clear on was why we cared that Michael Flynn had lied to the vice president and others, why that was a matter of ...


FRANKEN: I think that's clear.

YATES: Within DOJ jurisdiction.

FRANKEN: I think that's so clear, I can't...


FRANKEN: And the president had told -- President Obama had told the incoming president-elect two days after the election, don't hire this guy.

YATES: I don't know anything about that.

FRANKEN: Well, that's what we've heard.


FRANKEN: And we have McGahn doesn't understand what's wrong with this? And then we have Spicer, the press secretary, saying the president was told about this. The president was told about this in late January, according to the press secretary.

So now he's got a guy who has been, the former president said, don't hire this guy. He's clearly compromised. He's lied to the vice president. And he keeps him on, and he lets him be in all these classified phone -- lets him talk with Putin. President of the United States and the national security adviser sit in the oval office and discuss this with Putin.

Is it possible that the reason that he didn't fire him then was that, well, if I fire him for talking to the Russians about sanctions, and if I fire -- what about all the other people on my team, who coordinated? I mean, isn't it possible that the reason -- because you ask yourself, why wouldn't you fire a guy who did this? And all I can think of is that he would say, well, we've got all these other people in the administration who have had contacts. We have all these other people in the administration who coordinated, who are talking. Maybe that. I'm just trying to -- we're trying to put a puzzle together here, everybody.

And maybe, just maybe, he didn't get rid of a guy who lied to the vice president, who got paid by the Russians, who went on Russia Today, because there are other people in his administration who met secretly with the Russians and didn't reveal it until later, until they were caught. That may be why it took him 18 days, until it became public, to get rid of Mike Flynn, who is a danger to this republic.

Care to comment? (LAUGHTER)

YATES: I don't think I'm going to touch that, senator. Thank you.
If only Marty Feldman had stuck his head inside the door, blurted out "Kushner!" and somewhere nearby we heard horses rear.

Michelle Goldberg observes how much time was not spent by Republicans on the Russian election meddling. Clapper thought that's what he was there to talk about:
Under questioning by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Clapper attempted to focus matters: “I understand how critical leaks are and unmasking and all these ancillary issues. But to me, the transcendent issue here is the Russian interference in our election process. And what that means to the erosion of the fundamental fabric of our democracy. And that to me is a huge deal.” But as this hearing once again made clear, it is not a huge deal to most Republicans in Congress.
Trump last night changed his Twitter banner to declare -- again -- that Clapper had cleared him of any collusion with the Russians. What Clapper revealed yesterday was that he was in no position to know if there was evidence or not. CNN:
Throughout the Russia probes, the Trump White House has pointed to testimony earlier this year from Clapper that he had seen no evidence in the January intelligence report of collusion between the President's campaign and Russia. That was before FBI Director James Comey publicly revealed that the FBI was, in fact, investigating that question.

Clapper said Comey's March 20 testimony was the first he heard of the FBI investigation. He later said that his original assessment was that there was no evidence he had seen worth including in the intelligence assessment -- but Yates later said that she could not answer the question because she did not want to reveal any classified information.

The implication from both officials' testimonies was that there may, indeed, be evidence of collusion -- this after months of the White House arguing that Clapper was clear there is no evidence.
Max Boot at Foreign Policy:
None of Trump’s evasions or counteraccusations can change the fact that a grave crime was committed against our democracy, and that we need to get the full story if only to prevent the Russians from doing it again. Republicans may disagree, but imagine how they would feel if the situation were reversed and President Hillary Clinton were accused of conniving with a hostile foreign power? They would be demanding answers. If they have a shred of intellectual integrity or sheer patriotism, they should do the same now even when the allegations concern a member of their own party.
Don't hold your breath.