WASHINGTON, May 9, 2017 — Forget President Trump’s sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey which apparently occurred late Tuesday afternoon. What’s currently more important is what former Obama administration Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates said in congressional testimony Monday regarding the Democratic Party’s charge that Russia colluded with members of the Trump campaign to steal the presidential election from Hillary Clinton.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has made no secret of his contempt for President Donald Trump, asked surprisingly tough questions of Yates and James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence:
Graham: “Ms. Yates, do you have any evidence, or are you aware of any evidence, that would suggest that in the 2016 campaign anybody in the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government or intelligence services in an improper fashion?”
Yates: “Senator, my answer to that question would require me to reveal classified information. And so, I can’t answer that.”
Graham: “Well, I don’t get that because he [James Clapper] issued the report and he said he didn’t know of any. So, what would you know that was not in the report?”
Yates: “I think that Director Clapper also said that he was unaware of the FBI counter intelligence investigation.”
Graham: “Would it be fair to say that the counter intelligence investigation was not mature enough to… get in his report? Is that fair Mr. Clapper?”
Clapper: “That’s a possibility.”
Graham: “What I don’t get is how the FBI can have a counter intelligence investigation, suggesting collusion, and you as director of national intelligence not know about it, and the FBI signs on to a report that basically said there was no collusion.”
Clapper: “I can only speculate why that’s so… The evidence, if there was any, did not reach the evidentiary bar in terms of levels of confidence that we were striving for in that intelligence community assessment.”
When asked if she could produce any evidence of Trump-Russian collusion, Ms. Yates disingenuously hid behind the tired “national security” trope.
A simple yes or no answer would not have compromised the nation’s safety or divulged “sources and methods,” as those in the spy game often say.
But her non-answer was the next best thing to pleading her Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, as did former Obama administration IRS official Lois Lerner after her Tea Party targeting scandal (initially dubbed an “investigation”) came to light.
James Clapper’s ignorance of the FBI’s so-called “counter intelligence investigation” strongly indicates the previous administration’s Trump inquiry did not originate at the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Building, but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
It’s clear that Clapper, whose job it was to coordinate intelligence reports concerning threats to the homeland posed by rogue regimes and terrorist organizations, was too kind when dismissing Yates’s Trump-Russian conspiracy theory as not reaching “the evidentiary bar in terms of levels of confidence.”
Clapper is more than aware of the government’s unprecedented domestic PRISM spy program, in which the cellphone and email communications of all American citizens – which includes Trump and his team – is collected and stored for secret purposes.
Sally Yates’s silence was not designed to protect national security but to conceal a Democratic administration’s espionage caper, in which Susan Rice, President Obama’s national security advisor, also played a major roll. It was put in play against the GOP opposition in clear violation of U.S. law and the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.
While Democrats feign fear of Russian hacking and electoral interference, during the most recent American elections, they clearly pushed this country closer to the kind of authoritarianism so familiar in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. As Republican President Abraham Lincoln once noted in a different context, the former U.S.S.R. is even today a nation where “despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” His warning bears repeating in 2017.