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WATCH: Al Franken brilliantly connects the dots on why Trump took so long to fire Flynn

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) pieced “a puzzle together” on Monday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, reasoning that Donald Trump may have been so reluctant to fire embattled former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn because other people in his administration similarly colluded with Russian operatives.

“The intelligence communities have concluded, all 17 of them, that Russia interfered with this election, and we all know that’s right,” Franken began during his line of questioning for former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.

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“One of the questions is why do [Russians] favor Donald Trump?” Franken explained, listing of the many connections between Trump campaign and administration officials and Russian operatives, including Jeff Sessions, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, Rex Tillerson, Jared Kusher and Flynn.

“Now, going to Flynn, he appeared during the campaign on Russia Today. Russia Today is the propaganda arm of the Russian government. General, since you’ve retired have you appeared on Russia Today?”

“No, not wittingly, no,” Clapper replied.

“Okay. And Flynn received $37,000 for sitting next to [Russian president Vladimir] Putin at the tenth anniversary of Russia Today. All this seems very odd to me and raised a lot of questions.”

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Yates explained that she brought those concerns directly to the Trump administration, which was confused by why it is “an issue for the Department of Justice if one White House official lies to another.”

“Okay, I don’t understand why he didn’t understand that,” Franken said. “General Flynn after that for 18 days stayed [at the White House]. There are policies that deal with who gets clearance, security clearance and not. Executive Order 12986 outlines the rules for security clearances, and it says that when there’s a credible allegation that raises concern about someone’s fitness to access classified information, that person’s clearance should be suspended pending investigation.”

“The executive order also states the clearance holders must always demonstrate, quote, trustworthiness, honesty, reliability, discretion and sound judgement, as well as freedom from allegiances and potential for coercion,” Franken continued. “And yet the White House counsel did not understand why the Department of Justice was concerned? “

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“The president was told about this in late January, according to the press secretary, so now he’s got a guy who has been … clearly compromised. He’s lied to the vice president, and [Trump] keeps him on, and he lets him be in all these classified meetings,” Franken continued.

“Is it possible that the reason that he didn’t fire him then was that, well, if I fire him for talking to the Russians about sanctions, what about all the other people on my team who coordinated?” Franken asked

“I mean, isn’t it possible that the reason—because you ask yourselves, why wouldn’t you fire a guy who did this? And all I can think of is that he would say, well, we’ve got all these other people in the administration who have had contacts,” he added. “We have all these other people in the administration who coordinated, who were talking.”

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“We’re trying to put a puzzle together here, everybody,” Franken said. “And maybe, just maybe, he didn’t get rid of a guy who lied to the vice president, who got paid by the Russians, who went on Russia Today because there are other people in his administration who met secretly with the Russians and didn’t reveal it until later—until they were caught.”

“That may be why it took him 18 days—until it came public—to get rid of Mike Flynn, who was a danger to this republic,” Franken said.
Watch the video below, via CNN:

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump lies to the press about his massive tax increasing while departing to France for the G7 Summit

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President Donald Trump was caught repeating inaccurate claims when he spoke to reporters before boarding Marine One for his trip to France for the G7 Summit.

"I think our tariffs are very good for us. We're taking in tens of billions of dollars, China is paying for it," Trump argued.

In reality, China is not paying for the tariffs, which are paid by American importers and passed on to consumers, making the announcement a massive tax increase on Americans.

"Our tariffs are working out very well for us, people don't understand that yet," Trump argued.

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Bill Maher presents ’25 things you don’t know about Stephen Miller’ on Real Time

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The host of HBO's "Real Time" presented "25 things you don’t know about Stephen Miller" on Friday.

"In high school, I was voted 'Most Likely to Comb My Mummified Mother's Hair,'" was one item.

"I think tacos are stealing jobs from hamburgers," was another.

"I'm a Cancer. I don't know my astrological sign," was a third.

"The worst part about my car smelling like wet dogs, is that I don't own dogs," was a fourth.

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Bill Maher dances on David Koch’s grave: ‘I’m glad he’s dead and I hope the end was painful’

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HBO "Real Time" host Bill Maher celebrated the death of right-wing billionaire David Koch, who died of prostate cancer.

"I guess I'm going to have to reevaluate my low opinion of prostate cancer," Maher said.

"Condolences poured in from all the politicians he owned and mourners are being asked, in lieu of flowers, to just leave their car engine running," he said.

"I know these seem like harsh words and harsh jokes, and I'm sure I will be condemned for them on Fox News, which will portray Mr. Koch as a principled libertarian who believed in the free market," Maher said. "He and his brother have done more than anybody to fund climate science deniers -- for decades."

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