Friday, December 01, 2017
I thought it might be interesting to go back and look at exactly what Sally Yates said when she testified before congress just to refresh our memory about what was going on in those early days of the administration before Flynn was fired:
Yates said she had had "two in-person meetings and one phone call" with White House counsel Don McGahn in January about Flynn.
Yates explained that she called McGahn with "a very sensitive matter" that she needed to discuss with him in person. She and another career Justice Department official then traveled to the White House to meet with McGahn and one of his associates in his office, where she told them that there had been press accounts related to Flynn's conduct that the DOJ "knew to be untrue."
"We told them how we had this information, how we had acquired it, and how we knew it was untrue," Yates recalled.
She continued: "We told them that the conduct Flynn had engaged in [speaking to Kislyak] was problematic in and of itself. We said that the vice president was entitled to know that the information he was giving the American people was not true. And we told him we were concerned that the American people had been misled about what General Flynn had done, and that we weren't the only ones who knew about this."
While he was vice president-elect, Pence insisted in an interview with CBS that Flynn and Kislyak "did not discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia" — a statement that turned out to be untrue and that set off alarm bells at the Justice Department.
Yates said the Russians "also knew what Flynn had done, and that he had misled the vice president and others. This was a problem, because the Russians likely had proof of this information, which created a situation where he could be blackmailed by the Russians. We told them we were giving them this information so they could take action. McGahn asked me if Flynn should be fired. I said that wasn't my call."
Yates met with McGahn again on January 27, during which McGahn asked her why the DOJ cared if "one White House official lied to another." He also wanted to know if the Department of Justice was pursuing a criminal case against Flynn, and expressed concern that firing Flynn could "interfere with the FBI taking action against" him. McGahn also asked Yates to see the DOJ's evidence of Flynn's conversations with Kislyak.
The FBI is investigating Flynn's contact with Kislyak as part of its probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The bureau interviewed Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak in January as part that probe, but Yates said she could not disclose "how Flynn did" in that interview because the investigation is ongoing.
Yates said that she called McGahn on January 30 — hours before she was fired by Trump for refusing to enforce his first immigration order — to tell him that he could come over to the DOJ to review the details of Flynn's communication with Kislyak. She said she didn't know if McGahn ever took the DOJ up on that offer, however, because she was fired shortly thereafter.
Yates told Democratic Sen. Chris Coons that, in the course of the meetings, "Mr. McGahn demonstrated that he understood that this was serious." But she said she didn't know if the White House took any additional steps to restrict Flynn's access to sensitive or classified information.
"If they didn't take any action, that would certainly be concerning," Yates said.
Flynn was asked to resign roughly 18 days after Yates first warned McGahn about his conversations with Kislyak.
Democratic Sen. Al Franken asked if Yates had any idea why Trump did not fire Flynn immediately, but she replied that she could not comment.
That has always been the question in regards to this particular event. McGahn had to tell the president. And he did nothing. In his first psycho solo press conference he said:
As far as the general is concerned, when I first heard about it, I said, huh, that doesn't sound wrong. My counsel came, Don McGahn, White House Counsel, and he told me, and I asked him, and he can speak very well for himself. He said he doesn't think anything is wrong. You know, really didn't think — really what happened after that — but he didn't think anything was done wrong. I didn't either, because I waited a period of time and thought about it. Well, I said I don't see, to me, he was doing the job.
The information was provided by, who I don't know, Sally Yates, and I was a little surprised because I said, "Doesn't sound like he did anything wrong there," but he did something wrong with respect to the Vice President, and I thought it was not acceptable as far as, as far as, the actual making the call. In fact, I've watched various programs, and I've read various articles where he was just doing his job. That was very normal.
You know, first everybody got excited because they thought he did something wrong. After they thought about it, it turned out he was just doing his job. So, and I do — and, by the way, with all of that being said, I do think he's a fine man. Yes, John?
The "lying to Pence" thing is ridiculous, of course. Trump knew about it an he didn't bother to correct Pence either, obviously.
Needless to say, this whole thing is just the tip of the iceberg. The cover up is going to be a very big deal. Trump was reported last night to have been speed dialing GOP Senators to try to get them to stop the investigation. They all chalked it up to Trump being a fucking moron and not understanding that he was behaving like a very guilty fucking moron. That looks worse than ever today and the fact that the news of those calls is leaking is significant. They are all trying to distance themselves from those calls.
The campaign interference portion of our program is still the big story. The reason Flynn's plea on this particular charge is important is that if Trump and or Kushner ordered Flynn to call Kislyak he was saying "don't get upset about these sanctions Obama imposed on Russia for helping us get elected. We'll take care of it."
That is not a good look.
And this is what Trump tweeted out the next day:
digby 12/01/2017 01:00:00 PM