No one in Washington, D.C., likely thought Sally Yates was going to clear things up when she testified today about a former national security adviser and his relationship with the Russian government.
Oh, no. The former acting U.S. attorney general deepened the questions, heightened the intrigue and quite possibly opened some more doors of inquiry into this ongoing mess within the Trump administration.
At issue is former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the retired Army lieutenant general who last 24 whole days as Donald Trump’s right-hand man on national security issues. The president booted him after Flynn lied to Vice President Pence about conversations he had with Russian government officials.
Yates’ testimony, though, did reveal an interesting lapse of time: It took 18 days for the president to fire Flynn after learning about the general’s deception. Why did it take so long to let him go?
Yates also told U.S. senators that Flynn’s conversations with the Russians — and his lying to the vice president — likely exposed him to blackmail. She said that’s a dangerous set of circumstances surrounding someone upon whom the president must rely for national security advice.
Oh, the web of intrigue continues to grow.
Yates stayed on after Donald Trump took office; she had been appointed by President Barack Obama to serve in the Justice Department, but then the new president asked her to stay on during his initial days in office. Then he fired her.
The Hill reports: “Reporting based on leaks of U.S. surveillance revealed in February that Flynn misled Vice President Pence about the contents of a December phone call to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — an account Pence was then repeating to the American people.”
There’s also this from The Hill: “‘We weren’t the only ones that knew all of this,’ Yates said Monday, referring to the revelation that Flynn misled Pence about the true content of the phone call with Kislyak. ‘The Russians also knew about what Gen. Flynn had done. The Russians also knew that Gen. Flynn had misled the vice president and others.
“’This was a problem because not only do we believe that the Russians knew this, but that they likely had proof of this information — and that created a compromise situation, where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians,’ she said.”
Do you think this Russia-Trump story is going away any time soon? Neither do I.
The FBI is examining this relationship. And of course there’s the question about collusion and whether the Trump campaign actually cooperated with Russian hackers who sought to influence the 2016 presidential election.
I believe I’m going to stay tuned to this drama as it plays out.