Donald Trump’s White House knew for 18 days that National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn was “compromised” and could potentially be blackmailed by the Russians before Flynn finally resigned.
In testimony this afternoon before a Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates explained that she visited the White House to share information with White House Counsel Don McGahn twice (on January 26 and 27) and spoke again with him by phone on the 29th – the day she was fired by President Trump for refusing to enforce his first, unconstitutional Muslim travel ban.
Because the Russians knew that Flynn had been untruthful to Vice President Mike Pence, Yates testified, he “could essentially be blackmailed” by Russian intelligence officers.
While the hearing was mostly devoid of partisan bickering, Republican Senators concentrated on the leak to the Washington Post while Democratic Senators focused their questions to a large degree on the 18 days between Yates’ first notification and Flynn’s departure.
Neither Yates nor former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who also testified this afternoon, would venture to speculate why Flynn was forced out only after the story broke in the Washington Post. Both had returned to civilian life and had no access to the decision-making process in the Trump White House.
That didn’t stop Democratic Senators from proposing possible reasons (ranging from incompetence, chaos, and cover-up) for the 18 days when a compromised National Security Adviser participated in high level meetings, hired staff, and advised President Trump on sensitive matters.
In the end, the President had been warned about Flynn’s temperament and judgment and chose not to act until Flynn’s situation became public. He was warned by
- President Obama (who fired Flynn in 2014) during a meeting in the White House shortly after the election
- Chris Christie, who managed the transition efforts before the election (according to Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC)
- Sally Yates (through White House Counsel Don McGahn)
The American people have the right to know why President Trump waited 18 days to act.
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