Former Attorney General Sally Yates let Donald Trump have it today. The president apparently believes he knows everything he needs to know about government and governing. That became rudely apparent when he did not grasp the health care bill, but more importantly, he does not understand the Department of Justice. Yates took aim and fired right into the heart of the matter.
Trump treats this government as a dictatorial business with plenty of “You’re Fired’s” and threats of being fired. Wednesday, he brought together Republicans, especially those who were hard no’s to TrumpCare. He sat one of those, Senator Heller of Arizona, next to him, and according to CNN the president said:
‘This was the one we were worried about. You weren’t there. But you’re gonna be. You’re gonna be. Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?’
In Trump’s latest interview with the New York Times, he blatantly admitted that if he had known Attorney General Jeff Sessions was going to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, he never would have nominated him. This in spite of Sessions being one of Trump’s earliest supporters.
Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation after conferring with the Justice Department ethics officials. At the time, he commented to the Washington Post:
‘They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation.’
The reason behind his recusal was that Sessions met with the Russian ambassador during the Trump campaign and did not disclose it during the Senate confirmation hearings. To do otherwise would have been a conflict of interest and breach of ethics.
Trump criticized Sessions’ act to the New York Times reporters:
‘Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.’
Trump’s reasoning was that if Sessions had stayed on, Special Counsel Robert Mueller III would never have come onto the scene. By recusing himself, the Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein had the opportunity to hire Mueller to investigate Trump’s interactions with the Russians. In other words, the president wanted Sessions to have his back, regardless.
That was when Sally Yates let the president have it with both barrels:
‘POTUS attack on Russia recusal reveals yet again his violation of the essential independence of DOJ, a bedrock principle of our democracy.’
POTUS attack on Russia recusal reveals yet again his violation of the essential independence of DOJ, a bedrock principle of our democracy.
— Sally Yates (@SallyQYates) July 20, 2017
Shortly after the president’s inauguration, Yates came to the Oval Office to inform him about his then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. She told Trump about Flynn’s ties to the Russians. Rather than fire Flynn, he canned the long serving Department of Justice employee Yates.
During the New York Times interview, Trump also trash-talked Mueller and gave him a thinly-veiled threat. He warned Mueller not to stray too far away from Russia in his investigation, especially regarding Trump finances. Asked by the New York Times reporters if that would be crossing a red line, 45 responded:
‘I would say yes. I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.’
For some reason, Trump does not believe that he is under investigation, even though firing Comey was a clear case of obstruction of justice. He told the New York Times:
‘I don’t think we’re under investigation. I’m not under investigation. For what? I didn’t do anything wrong.’
Check out Trump’s recorded comments to the New York Times’s reporters: