Senator Al Franken took the Trump administration to task on Monday by reciting a list of cabinet members who have proven ties to Russia. His presentation took place before former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates gave testimony regarding Russian connections.
The names on Franken’s list included Paul Manifort, who served as Trump’s campaign manager, and Michael Flynn, who was briefly a national security adviser. Franken also named Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ex-adviser Carter Page and Trump’s current senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. When he reached the end of the list, Franken said that was “a lot” of names.
Yates was fired from her position when she refused to support Trump’s controversial Muslim travel ban. That ban, and an updated version, have been blocked by federal judges.
Franken asked why President Trump did not dismiss Flynn immediately when it was revealed he had lied about his Russian ties. It was then discovered that both Yates and former President Obama had advised Trump against hiring Flynn because he was most likely compromised.
The senator then read the Justice Department’s requirements for obtaining a national security clearance, which state that there must be honesty, discretion, reliability and trustworthiness. In addition, clearance holders must have no other allegiances that could leave them open to coercion.
He asked James Clapper, who formerly served as Director of National Intelligence, if he had made an appearance on a propaganda program called Russia Today. Clapper replied that he had not done so willingly, which caused an outbreak of laughter.
Franken turned back to Yates and asked her if she had directly warned the president about Flynn. Yates responded that the topic had been covered in her first meeting with Trump although she would not speculate as to why her advice was not taken.
The senator said that perhaps Yates advice was not taken because Trump was attempting to protect other people within his administration who also had ties to Russia.