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Sally Yates, who blew the whistle on Michael Flynn back in the Before Times, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for most of the working day on Wednesday, and she spent most of her time blowing to smithereens many of the Republican Preciouses with which they hope to obfuscate the president* through to a second term. This is not what you will hear from the wingnut Wurlitzer, or from Republican politicians who can’t seem to envision a future without the grift and nonsense of Camp Runamuck. But that’s what happened.
They came at her strongly with the notion that the “Obama-Biden” White House conspired with Democratic Deep State activists to frame El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago and throw the election to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina came at that right out of the box, and Yates stomped a mudhole in his head. At issue was a January 5, 2017 Oval Office meeting between then-President Obama, then-Vice President Biden, Yates, and several other individuals, at which Flynn’s shady dealings with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak were discussed. Graham wanted to turn that meeting into a gathering of the Deep State cabal. Yates went upside his grill.
By late December, our intelligence community had determined that Russia acting on the direct orders of the Vladimir Putin had engaged in a massive effort to undermine faith in our democratic processes to hurt Hillary Clinton’s chance of electability and engage the candidacy of now President Donald Trump. The Russian government used the strategic release of stolen information and a coordinated campaign to weaponize social media against American citizens.
This unprecedented act of aggression could not go unanswered. On December 28, the Obama administration took a first step by ejecting 35 suspected Russian intelligence officers and imposing sanctions on Russia. They did this to punish the Russians for their attacks on our democracy and importantly to deter them from ever doing it again. As expected, they him — the Russians immediately announced they would retaliate. The next day they inexplicably reversed course and announced it did not intend to take any responsive action. The administration was understandably perplexed by this abrupt change and President Obama asked the intel community to try and figure out what had happened. The FBI discovered the answer.
General Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser, was having back channel discussions with Sergey Kislyak. Recorded conversations between General Flynn and the ambassador revealed General Flynn had neutered the U.S. government’s message of deterrence. Rebuking the Russians for their attack — rather than rebuking the Russians for their attack on our country, General Flynn was conciliatory. A day after General Flynn’s call with Kislyak, Putin himself announced the Russians would not take any action to respond to America’s sanctions. President Trump tweeted praise of Putin’s decision. In a follow-up call between Kislyak and Flynn, Kislyak advised Flynn that Moscow had made this decision as a direct result of Flynn’s request. That is what was happening in the days that led up to this January 5 meeting.
And that’s the whole of it. The Trump campaign and transition teams in 2016—and individuals who worked for both of them—were in business with the Russians, who wanted a way out of the sanctions imposed upon them by the Obama administration. They’re at it again. The rest is all bait for the rubes and the angry shut-ins of the Republican base. Ignorance is no excuse this time around.
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