You’ll be hearing a lot from the lefty social media sphere about how former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates DESTROYED Texas Senator Ted Cruz in her appearance before the Senate Subcommittee today as they investigate Russian involvement in the last election. Let me go ahead and show that to you now, to get it out of the way. It was a good exchange, and she held her own; which is impressive given Cruz’s abilities as a hard-charging appellate attorney. Pay attention to what Cruz says at the end about suspecting partisanship, because that’s the general tenor of today’s hearings, at least on the Republican side.
Cruz, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa were particularly open in their assertion that Yates, in “warning” the White House back in January that now ex-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has associations with Russian contacts that compromised his ability to do his job, may have had a partisan motive for her actions.
Yates was also grilled pretty heavily by GOP members about why she refused to enforce President Donald Trump’s travel ban, a move which led to her termination at the Department of Justice. Yates contends she found the ban unconstitutional and would have been violating her oath to enforce it. The very shrewd litigator, when questioned about the travel ban, turned into something of an activist, using expressions about “truth” and mentioning that she saw the ban as a religious test (hence the unconstitutional part) intended to discriminate against Muslims.
Cruz reminded her that the Executive Order issuing the travel ban was declared legal as it related to its constitutionality. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy even went so far as to ask Yates when she became a member of the Supreme Court, since deciding the constitutionality of orders was their purview alone.
For her part, Yates came across as a person of integrity and conviction. She was most believable when she was insisting that one of her primary reasons for taking her concerns about Flynn to the White House was that Vice President Mike Pence was being sent out with inaccurate information and was “unknowingly lying” to the American public. But she did leave a nagging feeling she must have been encouraged to “take a stand,” particularly as it relates to Flynn.
She was clear that she never requested Flynn be unmasked, but could never answer — partly due to the fact that she couldn’t answer questions related to an ongoing investigation – how Flynn came to be unmasked. Who ordered the unmasking and why was particularly interesting to Graham, and he made sure to mention at the close of the hearing that he would be seeking answers to those questions.
The insinuation is, of course, that Flynn’s associations were a witch hunt to harm the new administration, prompting Kennedy to wonder why Flynn was given “double secret” security clearance that allowed him to serve in the White House if his phone call with the Russian ambassador was known about during the transition period between the election and the inauguration.
So many questions. The Dems, for their part, kept mentioning a special committee and a special prosecutor to investigate the ties of the new administration to Russia. GOP members want further investigation as to how and why Flynn was unmasked — not to mention who in the intelligence community leaked his name to the Washington Post that allowed them to break the story.
Former head of the Department of National Intelligence James Clapper, who also testified today, had a third agenda for his appearance: he simply, he said, wants the electorate to be aware of how hard Russia is working to undermine the US democratic system.