May 9, 2017 5 Top Stories to Start Your Day
In a battle to find the truth, former Acting Attorney General of the United States, Sally Yates and former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper appeared before the Senate judiciary subcommittee Monday, both answered direct questions about the role Russia played in the election of the President of the United States in November. Here are 5 highlights (or lowlights) of the questioning that took place on the Hill Monday. The other question was what did the White House know and when did they know that their National Security Advisor, Michael Flyn, had been compromised and was found to be not telling the truth about phone between himself and Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.
1. Clapper, again, stated the role of Russia was to be a disrupter into the election process in the United States but Russia also is a disrupter in other countries too. For instance, he stated that it appeared that Russia had something to do with the dumping of email and computer material on the day before the French election. Russia had backed the conservative, nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen over the liberal candidate Emmanuel Macron. It was the files of Macron that were released but voters appeared to be unmoved by the dump. Macron won with 66 percent of the vote. Clapper stated in his opening that the Russians had “also collected on certain Republican Party affiliated targets but did not release any Republican related data.” In other words, Russia preferred Republican candidate Donald Trump over the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
2. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) questioned Yates on her decision not to defend the first travel ban executive order that President Trump signed in January. Republicans talk of the press using gotcha questions but this time it was Cruz trying to throw Yates off by inciting a federal law which calls for the Attorney General to follow the policies of the administration. Yates came back, quickly, with a more recent law stating the laws to be enforced must be constitutional which the first travel ban was not.
3. Senator Cruz was not done though. He then asked, “In the over 200 years of the Department of Justice history, are you aware of any instance in which the Department of Justice has formally approved the legality of a policy and three days later the attorney general has directed the department not to follow that policy and to defy that policy?” Cruz said. Yates responded, “I’m not, but I’m also not aware of a situation where the Office of Legal Counsel was advised not to tell the attorney general about it until after it was over.” Again, she spoke of the constitutionality of the first travel ban. The courts agreed with Yates determination.
4. Senator John Kennedy, (R-LA) also went on the offensive against Yates. Again, the questions centered on her decision not to defend President Trump’s travel ban executive order. In a booming voice, he asked Yates, “Who appointed you to the United States Supreme Court?” Yates replied “I personally wrestled over this decision. It was not one that I took lightly at all. But it was because I took my responsibilities seriously. I believe that it is the responsibility of the attorney general, if the president asks him or her to do something that he or she believes is unlawful or unconstitutional, to say no,” Yates added.
5. President Donald Trump responded in his usual matter, tweeting what he thought of the proceedings, “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?” Yet, Yates proved that to be incorrect. Yates warned the administration not once, not twice, but four times, that Flynn’s repeated communications to the Vice President were not truthful. The knowledge that Flynn had been untruthful with Pence was not only known to the FBI but to Russian officials, which meant Flynn had been compromised and could have been blackmailed by Russia. Yates said, “The Vice President was unknowingly making false statements to the public and because, we believed, that General Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians.”
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