On Monday, former interim Attorney General Sally Yates testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the alleged collusion between Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Yates had known about Gen. Michael Flynn’s communications with a top Russian official and warned Trump, but she was ignored and later fired.
As expected, the hearing was highly partisan with Democratic Senators trying to learn more about the Russian interference in the country’s election, while Republican Senators tried to dodge the controversial topic by constant deflection to other topics.
The most awkward moments, however, occurred when Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-TX) started questioning the former transition attorney general and failed to outsmart her. Cruz began by insinuating that Yates defied the president’s order to enforce the controversial Muslim ban. Yates replied that an AG does not have the authority to do that and “that’s not what [she] did in [that] case”.
Cruz’s next step was to quote a statute that allows a U.S. president to bar any alien from entering the country for a period that he deems necessary if that measure suits the country’s interests. The senator underlined that Yates’ refusal to comply with the statute was the reason for her losing her job.
Cruz Attempt to Grill Yates Backfires
Yates, though, was not intimidated. In response, she quoted a provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act which states that no alien should be discriminated against when applying for a U.S. visa because of “race, nationality, or place of birth.” The former AG pointed out that the provision was turned into law after the statute quoted by Cruz, which means that it took precedence. Cruz apparently was not aware of that, so, he tried to deliver one more blow, by accusing the former official of being an Obama loyalist.
He then asked her if she was aware of any instance in the Department of Justice’s history in which the department approved the legality of a presidential policy for the attorney general to direct the department not to enforce that policy three days later. Yates’ response was brilliant:
“I’m not. But I’m also not aware of a situation where the office of legal counsel was advised not to tell the Attorney General about it until after it was over.”
You can watch the full exchange here:
Exchange between Sally Yates and Senator Ted Cruz at hearing on Russian interference in 2016 election. Full video here: http://cs.pn/2qh7tjM
Posted by C-SPAN on Monday, May 8, 2017
Image source: Printscreen