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Thomas Gallatin / May 9, 2017

Yates Blows Smoke … Still No Fire

Her Senate testimony reveals little new information, and no evidence supporting Russian-Trump collusion.

On Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, who was fired by Donald Trump for refusing to defend his original travel ban executive order, gave her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee. What was of most interest to the senators was information regarding Trump’s former national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn, and what Yates knew of Russian election interference.

Yates testified that she had been so concerned over Flynn being “compromised” and open to “blackmail” that she had two meetings with Trump’s White House lawyer, Don McGahn, to whom she expressed her fears. Yet when she was pressed as to whether there was evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia, she refused to answer, citing classification protocol. When former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was also testifying, was asked whether he had seen evidence of collusion, he said no. And, for the record, even Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein likewise said last week there is no evidence of that collusion.

Prior to the Senate committee’s hearing, questions were raised by Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, as to Barack Obama’s handling of Flynn. Spicer asked, “If President Obama was truly concerned about General Flynn, why didn’t he suspend General Flynn’s security clearance, which they had just re-approved months earlier?” Recall that Gen. Flynn had formerly worked for Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, a position from which he was fired in 2014 over his disagreements with Obama on foreign policy. However, even after Flynn was fired he was granted permission to give a paid speech in Moscow, and his security clearance was subsequently reauthorized by the Obama administration following that Russia visit in late 2015. If Flynn was such a threat to national security, then why was his clearance reauthorized by Team Obama?

So, what was learned? Well, Trump may have summed it up best when he tweeted after the hearing, “Sally Yates made the fake media extremely unhappy today — she said nothing but old news!” What is clear is that Democrats are still convinced of a Trump-Russia collusion scandal and are committed to continuing to fuel that narrative, regardless of the lack of any supporting evidence. What has yet to be uncovered is who was responsible for leaking the names of individuals associated with Trump after Obama adviser Susan Rice unmasked them.

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