The day before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey to allegedly relieve pressure on himself over the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified to Congress about the activities of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
As Yates explained, she was concerned that Russia knowing about Flynn’s lies allowed him to be easily blackmailed.
“We weren’t the only ones that knew all of this . . . the Russians also knew about what General Flynn had done,” she said. “And that created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.”
As national security analyst Marcy Wheeler explains in a new post, at the time Yates knew that Flynn had lied about Russian sanctions. But what Yates did not know was that Trump himself may have ordered Flynn to get rid of the sanctions, as many believe happened based on conversations between Flynn, Trump and Flynn’s aide KT McFarland, who was stationed at Mar-a-Lago with the president.
“Neither Yates nor the FBI would have known that the Russians were offering a Trump Tower deal and dirt on Hillary Clinton to induce Don Jr. to commit to revisit sanctions,” Wheeler writes.
Yates believed Flynn was compromised and sounded a warning bell, Wheeler writes, but based on what we now already know, Trump may have been “more susceptible to blackmail than Flynn, because Flynn had just been doing what he was told, didn’t have a prior bribe to hide, and might expect a pardon if he successfully protected the President.”
Based on what we’ve learned since, it appears Yates’ testimony foreshadowed Trump’s increasingly unhinged actions.
“Trump would be stuck committing one after another act of obstruction in an attempt to prevent the FBI from discovering the full truth,” she writes. “Each of those acts would put him deeper in the hole, because each time he engaged in obstruction, the Russians would measure his increasing vulnerability.”