CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday absolutely destroyed the White House’s various explanations for why Donald Trump was so reluctant to fire former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates revealed he lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russian officials.
Tapper was reacting to Yates’ testimony Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she laid out the timeline of events between informing the president that Flynn was potentially compromised and the president deciding to seek Flynn’s resignation. Yates’ answers contradicted the White House’s account of how those events transpired, and forced Sean Spicer on Tuesday to offer a “stunning” explanation for the administration’s tepid response to Flynn’s transgressions.
“Stunning news from the White House just minutes ago about why it took the Trump administration 18 days from the moment they were warned about their national security adviser possibly having been compromised by the Russians, until the moment that President Trump finally requested the resignation of Mike Flynn,” Tapper began on CNN’s “The Lead” Tuesday.
Tapper noted Spicer’s assertion that the president “did not know how to take the warning from then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates because they did not think she was a Trump supporter.”
“It’s a stunning admission when you consider the high stakes of what Yates was alerting the White House to, and the petty, partisan politics the administration apparently allowed to cloud their judgment,” Tapper said.
The CNN host relayed some of Yates’ incredible testimony, including that she decided to inform Trump of Flynn’s communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak after hearing Pence insist the two did not discuss “anything of substance,” which was—as Yates knew—a lie.
“She as acting attorney general knew the actual contents of those conversations,” Tapper explained. “So Yates reached out to the White House counsel, Don McGahn, and told him that Flynn had apparently lied to Vice President Pence and others.
“She was worried because she suspected she was not the only one who knew that Flynn had lied,” Tapper relayed, noting even with Yates’ warning, the administration did nothing.
“Why did the White House not act while this man, potentially compromised by the Russians, roamed around the situation room with access to the most top secret information for all those days?” Tapper asked, playing a clip of Spicer referring to Yates’ disclosure as “a heads up.”
“A heads up?” Tapper repeated, befuddled. “She was warning you that your national security information might be compromised by the Russians.”
The CNN host then rolled a clip from Tuesday’s White House press conference, where Spicer agued, “if we dismissed because a political opponent of the president made an utterance, you would say it was pretty irrational.”
“An utterance? From a political opponent?” Tapper repeated. “That’s how the White House viewed this warning.”
Tapper then turned to Trump’s defense of Flynn in the days after his dismissal, when the president insisted that “other than lying to lying to Pence, Flynn did nothing wrong.”
“This is all part of President Trump and his team trying to discredit or anyone that calls him or them into question, including now the FBI and congressional investigations into Russian interference in the election,” Tapper explained. “In a tweet the president called them, ‘a total hoax’ and a ‘taxpayer-funded charade.’”
“Is President Trump a reliable source of information on the Russia story?” Tapper asked, reminding viewers that Trump once promised neither he nor people he “deals with” have ties to Russia.
“‘No person that I deal with,’ except, of course, for General Flynn and Attorney General Sessions and former adviser Carter Page, all of whom had contact with the Russians during the campaign,” Tapper said. “Not to mention former Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, who has admitted that he communicated with Guccifer 2.0, who claims to have hacked the DNC and who U.S. officials claim with ‘high confidence’ to be a front for Russian military intelligence. “
“Fake news, total hoax, taxpayer-funded charade,” Tapper repeated. “Doesn’t matter the words or tweets that the president throws up. The investigations will continue and we will be here to bring you the facts about them wherever they may lead.”
Watch the video below, via CNN: