GOP Senators Ignore Fire, Fret About Who Called the Fire Department at Sally Yates Hearing
WASHINGTON, May 11, 2017—One of the big stories to come out of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism hearing Monday was that most Republican senators appeared more concerned with issues of unmasking and Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban than they were with Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
At the hearing, former Acting Attorney general Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper answered questions for over three and a half hours. Even though the hearing was officially titled “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election,” a large number of GOP Senators limited their questions to unrelated issues.
Arbiter News’s analysis of the transcript and questions reveals a deep divide along party lines between senators who are concerned about Russia meddling in the 2016 elections and possible collusion with a presidential campaign, and senators who are angry that the meddling and possible collusion has been made public.
Democrats on the Committee kept their questions to the topic of Russian influence in the 2016 election and the circumstances surrounding the firing of Michael Flynn on February 13.
Republican Senators asked a total of 84 questions; only 28 were directly related to Russian interference. Two thirds of questions coming from Republicans dealt with surveillance, unauthorized leaks, unmasking, and an attempt to portray Sally Yates as biased by asking 25 questions on why she refused to enforce Trump’s travel ban.
Ben Sasse was the only GOP Senator who kept his questions exclusively to Russian interference. Senators Cornyn and Cruz, on the other hand, did not ask a single question relating to Russia, using their time instead to advance false White House narratives.
By asking about her reasons for not supporting Trump’s executive order restricting travel, Senators Cruz, Cornyn and Kennedy echoed the White House’s attempt to discredit Sally Yates and her testimony by portraying her as a “political opponent.”
By focusing on leaks, these same senators advanced Trump’s repeated assertions that “the real story” is about leaks, and not about a hostile government hijacking the 2016 elections.
Finally, by concentrating on unmasking—like Devin Nunez before them—GOP senators are attempting to manufacture “evidence” for Trump’s baseless claim that President Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower in 2016.
It seems clear that to some GOP senators, it’s still party over country.