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Russia Investigation Begins: What Should Senators Investigate?

by Countable | 5.9.17

The testimony by former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism has begun.

Committee Chair Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated that:

"Every American should be concerned about what the Russians did [to interfere with the 2016 election]...there’s no doubt in my mind it was the Russians involved...not some 400 lb guy on a bed or any other country", so the point of the day’s hearing was to discuss all things Russia.

Yates is testifying specifically about her conversations in late January with White House counsel Donald McGahn. In two meetings, on January 26 and 27, she met to inform him of concerns by the Department of Justice that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had lied to the administration about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak and was therefore in a position to be blackmailed.

Yates said that Vice-President Pence did not, she believed, knowingly misrepresent Flynn’s actions, but that Flynn had lied to the vice-president. In fact, that his lying was what "compromised" him and made him vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government.

Yates testified concerning the items covered in that first meeting:

"We...walked through with Mr. McGahn essentially why we were telling [the administration] about this. The first thing..was that the underlying conduct that General Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself...And we wanted to make it really clear right out of the gate that we were not accusing Vice-President Pence of knowingly providing false information to the American people… We were concerned that the American people had been misled…[and] that we weren’t the only ones that knew all of this. The Russians also knew what Gen. Flynn had done and...knew that the general had misled the vice-president and others...This was a problem because not only did the Russians know this but that they likely had proof of this information and that created a compromise situation, a situation where the National Security Advisor could essentially be blackmailed."

Both officials were questioned repeatedly about if they had leaked, or ordered anyone under their supervision to leak, confidential material. Both responded that they had not. There have also been repeated questions about "unmasking", the disclosing of the names of U.S. citizens who may have been incidentally surveilled in the course of legal surveillance of non-U.S. officials.

Throughout the early part of the hearing Yates asserted repeatedly that she would not disclose information that was classified or would effect an ongoing investigation. Hopes that she would disclose information not previously known about conversations between herself and McGahn were largely not realized.

What do you think of Yates and Clapper's testimony? Use the Take Action button to tell your reps what you think!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)


Written by Countable

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