Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general fired by President Trump for insubordination and refusal to carry out a lawful order, said on Tuesday she worries about “normalization” of behaviors that threaten democratic norms and the rule of law, according to a story in the Washington Post.
She appeared with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) at a policy conference at the Center for American Progress and talked about the “wall between the White House and the Department of Justice when it comes to investigations and prosecutions.”
Lobbing criticisms at the administration has become Yates’ job since Trump fired her for refusing to carry out the ban on immigration from seven countries identified by Obama administration officials as too dangerous to admit immigrants from.
The Post and the rest of the mainstream media love her for it. “Yates – who has rejected the suggestion to run for political office – remains one of the most (if not the most) impressive speakers” Democrats have, the Post wrote – unwittingly acknowledging she had used her position to threaten norms against partisanship among Justice Department leaders.
“Her singular focus on preservation of democracy, matched with the considerable expertise and a low-boiling, righteous anger, givers her a stature most politicians lack,” the Post reported. “Perhaps her refusal to consider political office will fade.”
Her political ambitions may remain under wraps for other reasons, among them that Yates herself might be in trouble. She is implicated in the Michael Flynn investigation, now so widely regarded as botched that Flynn’s guilty plea for lying to the FBI may be thrown out.
In May 2017, Yates testified before a Senate panel looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election, that she warned the White House not to keep Flynn on board because he was under threat of blackmail from the Russians, who allegedly knew he had lied to White House colleagues about meetings with then-Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.
Paul Sperry reported in the New York Post this week that Trump fired Yates, rather than Flynn, because “it was Yates who was blackmailing him.”
President Obama and his holdovers in the new administration “had a morbid fear” of Flynn, “and were gunning for him early in the transition, long before rumors he was involved in any alleged Russian conspiracy,” Sperry wrote.
The information Yates used to try to get Flynn fired came from the unmasking of National Security Administration intercepts of the Russian ambassador. Those on the right have long suspected Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser was responsible. But “just days after the inauguration … Yates used those same NSA transcripts to try to get Flynn fired, by warning the White House that he was ‘vulnerable’ to Russian extortion.”
But, as Sperry said, “that makes no sense. Any ‘leverage’ the Russians may have had over Flynn vanished the moment Yates informed the White House he lied.
Sperry also reported that when Yates, whose entire family was in Democrat political circles, defied Trump and got herself fired, she “overruled her own Office of Legal Counsel, which concluded the executive order was lawfully and properly written.”
So, not carrying out a lawful order from the president earns one praise from mainstream media. Her “sense of mission and optimism give one hope, but she makes a singular point: Aside from any specific legislation, the hardest and most essential effort remains the ongoing refusal to accept this president’s hostility to the rule of law.”
And that’s not all the normalizing Yates may have done of behaviors that threaten democratic norms. She blocked all oversight of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division from the department’s own inspector general. The inspector general promised a report on the Justice Department’s actions by Jan. 5. Now, he says the report is due in June.
At the least, Yates has normalized delaying justice if not denying it outright.