WH highlights Clapper testimony on Trump-Russia collusion

Cameron Gross
May 17, 2017

A former US Department of Justice official has testified she had two meetings and one telephone call with White House officials about Michael Flynn when he was President Donald Trump's national security adviser.

President Trump has always been fond of dog analogies.

Broadcaster Keith Olbermann praised former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday as an "American hero", whose fearless testimony before a Senate committee "used to be the minimum standard for public servants".

Her testimony, coupled with the revelation hours earlier that President Barack Obama himself had warned Trump against hiring Flynn shortly after the November election, made clear that alarms about Flynn had reached the highest levels of the US government months before.

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.

She explicitly contradicted the White House characterization of Flynn's contact with Kislyac as normal.

Flynn was sacked from the DIA in 2014 for what officials familiar with the issue said was a disruptive management style that included instructing analysts to find intelligence substantiating improbable theories that some subordinates came to call "Flynn facts". She said she feared Flynn "could essentially be blackmailed by the Russians", but the White House took no action until Flynn resigned 18 days later.

"We weren't the only ones that knew all of this, that the Russians also knew about what General Flynn had done and the Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others", Yates said, relating the contents of her conversation with White House Counsel Donald McGahn on January 26, in which she told him that she information that statements by Vice President Mike Pence, based on his conversations with Flynn, were false.

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Initially, Clapper testified that before he retired from his post on January 20, he knew of no evidence of collusion between the Trump camp and Russian Federation during the 2016 election. Trump, unmoved, hired him as national security adviser. "This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel", the statement from the White House read. Yet when she was pressed as to whether there was evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with Russian Federation, she refused to answer, citing classification protocol. Trump has taken pains to diminish the investigations in the minds of citizens, often by insulting United States intelligence officials and lawmakers on social media and in public.

The hearing had major implications for Trump's presidency.

Then the president threw another jab: "The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?"

FBI Director James Comey testified in the House on March 20 that the agency was investigating potential links between Trump associates and Moscow's attempts to tilt the election.

Congressional investigators have also accused Flynn of possibly breaking the law by not properly disclosing a $45,000 payment for an appearance he made at an event in Moscow to celebrate Russia Today. John CornynJohn CornynWhat moderate GOP senators want in ObamaCare repeal Yates account builds Flynn-Russia drama Dem senator: Possible methane vote would be "a huge step backward" MORE (R-Texas) calling it "enormously disappointing" - they were unable to distract from her damning testimony on Flynn.

Questioning on Monday often broke along party lines.

Trump has denied that his aides were involved in the hacking of Democratic groups, but the investigations could cast a shadow over his White House for years.

Yates, a longtime federal prosecutor and Obama administration holdover, was sacked January 31 by Trump after refusing to defend the administration's travel ban.

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