Sally Yates to Testify Today

Today, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, along with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, will testify at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It will stream live on C-SPAN3, starting at 2:30pm ET.

By way of reminder, Yates was fired after she ordered Justice Department lawyers not to defend Donald Trump's (first) Muslim ban. The reason she has been called to testify, however, is because, as acting AG, until she was fired, she was playing a key role in the investigation of erstwhile National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

She was scheduled to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee, as part of their investigation into Russia, but her testimony was canceled by the Republican committee chair Devin Nunes.

The Trump administration has sought to prevent Yates from testifying, with the Justice Department insisting "a great deal of her possible testimony to be barred from discussion in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by the presidential communication privilege."

The Senate subcommittee has called her, anyway. And Trump is not happy about it, tweeting this morning:

[Donald Trump appears to have deleted his tweet. (!) It read: "Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017."]

Meanwhile, the White House strategy is to throw Michael Flynn under the bus, and to "smear" Yates as a Democratic operative:

I'm still very concerned that Donna Brazile is right that "The Russia Investigations Are a Joke," for all the reasons she details in that piece. We need an independent, bipartisan investigation over which the Republican Congressional majority does not hold exclusive control.

With the Republicans in Congress using these committee investigations to bury the whole thing and the administration trying to frame it as a partisan witch hunt, we need to rely on the media to accurately report what's happening. And I don't have a whole lot of confidence that will happen, unfortunately. (Even if it does, there's no guarantee that will lead to an independent investigation, but it's the best hope we've got.)

But there are, as always, some glimmers of hope. The AP reported this weekend that the then-incoming Trump administration copied classified documents and removed them from a SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility):
In late November, a member of Donald Trump's transition team approached national security officials in the Obama White House with a curious request: Could the incoming team get a copy of the classified CIA profile on Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States?

Marshall Billingslea, a former Pentagon and NATO official, wanted the information for his boss, Michael Flynn, who had been tapped by Trump to serve as White House national security adviser.

...The outgoing White House also became concerned about the Trump team's handling of classified information. After learning that highly sensitive documents from a secure room at the transition's Washington headquarters were being copied and removed from the facility, Obama's national security team decided to only allow the transition officials to view some information at the White House, including documents on the government's contingency plans for crises.

This, as Malcolm Nance noted, constitutes a "MAJOR SECURITY VIOLATION. Clearances shld be pulled now & all involved debriefed! Why NatCrisis response docs? Assume Espionage."

It's good reporting on a major security concern, about which, one hopes, Yates will be asked today. It further underlines the need for robust investigations and meaningful accountability.

If only the Republican Party weren't a bunch of fucking cowards with no loyalty to this nation, we'd already have the independent investigation we so desperately need.

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