Sally Yates wasn’t even present during the daily White House briefing, but she still managed to embarrass Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the White House was skeptical of Sally Yates’ report on the connection between Russia and disgraced former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn because she was allegedly a supporter of Hillary Clinton.
Spicer tries to diminish Yates by saying she was a "strong supporter of Clinton."
Is there any evidence of that? pic.twitter.com/iw7FG6VIcY
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 9, 2017
The press secretary attempted to justify his insulting of Yates as a “political opponent” by pointing to rumor that Yates would be given a senior position in a hypothetical Clinton administration and pointed to her later opposition to the controversial “Muslim ban” as vindication of her political opposition to the President.
Spicer was pressed for a basis for this assessment by the White House press corps, as Yates was first made a U.S. Attorney under President George H. W. Bush and served as a Justice Department official for administrations under both parties. Throughout her career in the Department of Justice, Yates has prosecuted both Democratic and Republican administrations, as well as corporate executives.
“Rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, liberal or conservative—if Sally Yates had you on tape taking bribes, you went to jail,” Slate described her in a piece in February.
At the same time, Spicer held fast to the talking point that Flynn had over thirty years of service and is “a good man,” despite President Trump demanding his resignation amid reports of Flynn’s paid work on behalf of foreign governments. Spicer insisted that he was not aware of the evidence presented to the White House by Yates and that Flynn’s firing should not be seen as a vindication of the claim he was compromised.
The press corps pushed back on this seeming disconnect and Twitter lit up with responses.
Sean Spicer just called Sally Yates a "political opponent of the POTUS."
…Yates is a 30-yr DOJ employee who was appointed by a Republican
— Caroline O. (@RVAwonk) May 9, 2017
Basically admin policy thru Spicer is to praise flawed Flynn because of his military service, and denigrate Yates for her civil service.
— Cathleen Decker (@cathleendecker) May 9, 2017
Whatever. Spicer can smear Yates all he wants. American people have now seen both in action & can tell which is the hack, which the patriot.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) May 9, 2017
Spicer also asked the press corps at what point they would accept the absence of evidence of collusion as evidence of absence of collusion.
When pressed about whether the American people deserved to know if Flynn was compromised, Spicer accused Yates of having not performed an investigation and argued that Flynn’s firing, while unrelated to Yates’ evidence, was still in the best interest of the American people.
Sally Yates served through five (5!!!) administrations and prosecuted Democratic politicians. Spicer called her a "political opponent."
— Mark Sumner (@Devilstower) May 9, 2017
Spicer ended the press conference without addressing the question of whether or not the American people should know if Flynn was, indeed, compromised, saying instead, “They need to know that the President took decisive action in the country’s interest.”