Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He explained that he delayed firing his Russia-compromised intelligence chief because it was Democrats telling him to do it.

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates' testimony yesterday confirmed that the Trump administration knew about Flynn's vulnerability to Russian blackmail for 18 of the 24 days Flynn served before press reports forced Trump's hand. Yates also revealed that Flynn was vulnerable not merely because he had told lies that Russia was aware of, but also because of the "underlying behavior" that those lies were meant to conceal. (The nature of that underlying behavior is classified, so Yates would have needed Trump's permission to say what it was.)

Until today, Trump claimed that Flynn was a "wonderful man" whose only error was that he had misled Vice-President Mike Pence. That explanation has gone through several revisions as new information has arisen. In the latest version, Sean Spicer today claimed that Trump would have been foolish to listen to a "political opponent" who wanted Flynn (perhaps Trump's closest political ally) fired. In other words, Spicer argued, because Yates was allegedly a "strong supporter of Clinton," it would have been "irrational" at the time to take seriously any evidence she presented that Flynn was a massive security risk.

Spicer has also recently claimed that the Obama administration (which fired Flynn in 2013) had allowed him to retain his security clearance, and therefore had effectively vouched for Flynn--making the whole matter President Obama's fault. But security clearances require an official government job to use, and Obama personally warned Trump not to hire Flynn.

So what?

  • A president who ignores threats to national security because he doesn't like the person who told him is incompetent at best.
  • National security is much, much, much more important than a president's party loyalty.