Sunday, 19 November, 2017

Yates: Alarm about Russian blackmail led to warning on Flynn

Former Director for National Intelligence James Clapper and former Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates are sworn in before testifying to Congress Former Director for National Intelligence James Clapper and former Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates are sworn in before testifying to Congress
Craig Ferguson | 10 May, 2017, 04:07

Before the full scope of Flynn's Russian connections were known, Obama urged Trump during their Oval Office meeting on November 10 not to hire Flynn.

But just hours before the hearing was to open, Trump's early support for Flynn was challenged by reports that then-president Barack Obama had strongly advised against giving him such a senior White House job.

The former acting attorney general told senators today that she warned the White House just six days after the inauguration that former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn "was compromised with respect to the Russians".

Flynn's conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak caught the attention of Trump's own transition team.

NBC News reported that the White House conducted no additional vetting of Flynn past his existing security clearance as a retired general before installing him in the high-ranking post.

Not long ago the idea that the U.S. national security adviser had been compromised by the Russians would have been the stuff of airport thrillers and TV mini-series.

Why does it matter to Yates' Justice Department if one White House official lies to another?

Sen. Charles 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.

"General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration", Trump tweeted early Monday.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham

Mr Trump made no mention of the fact that Mr Flynn had been fired from his position by the Obama administration in 2014. Yates said that in her meetings, McGahn "demonstrated that he understood this was serious".

A White House official told CNN that the administration plans to rebut Yates by employing two strategies: Calling into question her objectivity by arguing she is a partisan Democrat and questioning the timeline of events she is expected to present. The national security adviser was let go 18 days after Yates first raised her concerns with White House counsel Don McGahn. The revelation came after interviews with a host of former US officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive national security information. She was sacked January 30 for refusing to defend Trump's travel ban in the courts.

"To me, the evidence was overwhelming, and very compelling, that the Russians did this", Clapper testified, when asked about Trump's most recent assertions.

Cruz continued his questioning by explaining the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) approved Trump's executive order in a legal sense.

Two administration officials said Obama also warned Trump to stay vigilant on North Korea.

But Trump blew off the advice, figuring Obama was badmouthing Flynn because, as press secretary Sean Spicer described it, he became an "outspoken critic" of his ex-boss. Flynn served under Obama as defense intelligence chief before Obama dismissed him. For starters, Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he personally wasn't aware of any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

"Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows - there is "no evidence" of collusion w/ Russian Federation and Trump", Trump said.

Yates' warning about Flynn capped weeks of concern among top Obama officials, former officials told the AP. Another was the unmasking of the names of Trump associates on whom information was incidentally collected during the course of surveillance focused on foreign targets, and the leaks to the media that followed.

But he was clearly watching Monday's hearing of the Senate judiciary sub-committee closely - and heckling from Twitter.

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As points of reference, Echo runs $180 (currently on sale for $150) while Google Home costs $129 (currently on sale for $114). While the landing page doesn't give a definitive launch date, it does note that the Invoke will be available from "fall 2017".

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