Sally Yates could give a masterclass in how to testify before the Senate. The former Acting Attorney General faced the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday to discuss Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. In the face of questions about her actions, Yates calmly and coolly schooled Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, who seemed committed to changing the topic.
Yates was asked to testify about the evidence she gave the White House about General Michael Flynn’s connections with Russia. However, the GOP senators focused on other issues, including Yates’s conduct and firing as Acting Attorney General.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas proclaimed his disappointment in Yates. He declared she was acting for political reasons when she refused to defend Trump’s travel ban, saying, “I voted for your confirmation because I believe that you had a distinguished career, but I have to tell you that I find it enormously disappointing that you vetoed the decision of the Office of Legal Counsel with regard to the lawfulness of the President’s order and decided instead that you would countermand the executive order of the President of the United States because you happened to disagree with it as a policy matter.”
Yates responded politely but firmly, “I appreciate that, Senator, and let me make one thing clear—it was not purely as a policy matter. In fact, I remember my confirmation hearing, in an exchange that I had with you and your colleagues, where you specifically asked me, if the president asked me to do something that was unlawful or unconstitutional…would I say no. And I looked at this, I made a determination that I believed that it was unlawful…and I said no. That’s what I promised you that I would do. And that’s what I did.”
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