Trump Responds To Sally Yates’ Testimony With Fake News Claims, Of Course
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified in front of Congress on Monday about various matters related to President Trump — and like clockwork, Trump responded to Yates' testimony on Twitter shortly after it concluded, claiming that she "made the fake media extremely unhappy today" by saying "nothing but old news." In subsequent tweets, the president claimed that the "Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax" and insisted, cryptically, that the "biggest story today" surrounding Yates' testimony is "on surveillance."
During her testimony, Yates spoke extensively about Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security advisor. Flynn resigned from his post in February after it was revealed that, contrary to his earlier claims, he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador before Trump was inaugurated.
Yates said on Monday that, because Flynn had mischaracterized his communications with the Russians, her office concluded that he was susceptible to blackmail by the Russian government. She also said that her office informed the White House of this 18 days before Flynn was fired.
"We believed that General Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians," Yates told the Senate Judiciary subcommittee. "To state the obvious, you don't want your national security advisor compromised with the Russians."
Despite Trump's claim that Yates "said nothing but old news," it's highly significant that the White House allowed Flynn to keep his job for more than two weeks after learning that he might be susceptible to blackmail by the Russian government. Trump acknowledged in February that Yates did contact him about Flynn, but said that after reviewing the information she gave him, it didn't "sound like [Flynn] did anything wrong." He added that Flynn is "a fine man" who was "just doing his job."
The day of Yates' testimony, Trump defended Flynn on Twitter, saying that he had been "given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration," but that "the Fake News seldom likes talking about that." Hours later, NBC News reported that Flynn withheld information from the Defense Intelligence Agency when the Obama administration renewed his security clearance in April 2016. Around the same time, POLITICO reported that Obama personally warned Trump during the transition that Flynn was problematic.
Trump also addressed remarks from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who testified alongside Yates on Monday. Trump claimed that Clapper said there was "no evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government; in reality, Clapper said only that he has no personal knowledge of such evidence.