Flynn’s Demise Dominates Brief Tenure as National Security Adviser By Luke Perry & Paul Joyce
The testimony of former Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates provided little new information. Yates acknowledged she shared concerns with the White House on January 26, 2017 that Michael Flynn may be “vulnerable to blackmail.” She also informed Donald McGahn, the White House Counsel, that Flynn was intentionally misleading the Trump administration with regards to his ties to Russia.
Questions were raised about the 18 day delay between the transfer of this information and Flynn’s forced resignation after not being truthful with Vice President Mike Pence regarding his contact with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Since Yates was not employed after January 30th she could not speak to what exactly occurred during that time, nor what McGahn chose to do with the information she provided.
Republicans questioned Yates on how Flynn’s identify (normally secret under routine surveillance of foreign ambassadors) was “unmasked.” Even President Trump tweeted about this yesterday morning. Republicans also criticized her for not defending Trump’s immigration executive order, which led to her firing. Yates testified that she handled all classified information properly and didn’t defend the order because she believed it was unlawful.
The hearing punctuated two things:
First, Michael Flynn had no business being National Security Adviser. President Obama removed Flynn as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and advised Trump against him becoming National Security Adviser. Flynn’s brief tenure has been replaced with deepening problems for him (in regards to potentially criminal behavior) and for President Trump, who foolishly repaid campaign loyalty with a position of such importance.
Second, Congress is too ideologically invested to conduct a worthwhile investigation of Russian sabotage in the election. Members of Congress play for teams. When one team loses, the other wins. This context made it difficult for both sides to see Yates as not wearing a uniform.
Two weeks have produced two sets of testimony regarding Russia, the 2016 campaign, and the Trump presidency. This unprecedented drama continues to divide the nation and plague Trump’s presidency with no end in sight.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Professor of Government at Utica College. Paul Joyce is an MPA candidate at The University of Albany.