4 new things we learnt from Sally Yates Testimony about Michael Flynn

by  Itunuoluwa Adebo

On Monday, we learned much more about the moment that led to the downfall of the national security adviser who President Trump fired less than a month into the job.

Here are five new things we learned ;

1. Flynn lied about Russia, and it opened him up to potential blackmail from Russia

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was “compromised” after contacts with Russian officials during testimony on May 8 at the White House.

In December, before Trump assumed office, Flynn talked to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about potentially lifting U.S. sanctions President Barack Obama had just levied on Russia. These sanctions were punishment for alleged Russian meddling in the election to try to help Trump win.

But Yates had intelligence showing otherwise. Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak were picked up by the FBI during “routine surveillance” of the Russian ambassador, and she knew they had talked about sanctions.

2.  Democrats are pretty sure there’s more to the Trump-Russia story than Flynn

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) on May 8 said “President Trump has long pursued business deals in Russia.” Whitehouse spoke at the opening of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

We’ve had a couple of these public congressional hearings on Russia this year. And in nearly every single one, the top Democrat on the committee spends time outlining the Trump administration’s connections to Russia, as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse did Monday.

3. Republicans are  focused on HOW we know Flynn talked with the Russian ambassador

During the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said he wants to know how The Washington Post revealed that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had exchanges with Russia’s ambassador to the United States in 2016.

The FBI regularly spies on law, the identity of U.S. citizens’ conversations are kept secret from all but a handful of top intelligence officials, including someone in Yates’s position. Which raised the question: who “unmasked”. Flynn’s identity to her, and who leaked that identity to the media?

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) directly asked Yates on Monday whether she leaked information to the media or whether she asked the intelligence community to reveal Flynn’s identity to her. She said no to both. Republicans seemed intent on getting to the bottom of who did. They have also pointed the finger at Susan E. Rice, who was Obama’s national security adviser.

4. Republicans are also really mad at Yates for not defending Trump’s travel ban

She told senators Monday that she thought the ban was “unlawful” and that she couldn’t defend it in court. Trump fired her without hesitation.“It’s up to the courts to decide, and not you, correct?” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said. ” … I have to tell you, I find it enormously disappointing.”

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