In my humble opinion, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is possibly the least appreciated progressive we have in the Democratic Party. Sometimes I really do wonder how much his time at Saturday Night Live impacts the way people see him. It’s easy to view him as a sarcastic comedian — instead of a brilliant, quick-witted senator who also just happened to graduate in the top 25 percent of his class at Harvard.
When it comes to fighting for progressive causes, or calling out Republican b.s., very few do it better than Sen. Franken.
His comments on Monday are a perfect example. Franken didn’t hold back when he basically accused Donald Trump of avoiding firing Michael Flynn until he had no choice because so many of his other associates had similar contact with Russia during the election.
As transcribed by Raw Story:
Okay, I don’t understand why he didn’t understand that. 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. And yet the White House counsel did not understand why the Department of Justice was concerned?
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.
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?
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. We have all these other people in the administration who coordinated, who were talking.
We’re trying to put a puzzle together here, everybody. 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.
Look, I’ll agree, that’s nothing more than Franken piecing together various facts and other bits of information to suggest that it’s possible the reason Trump kept Flynn on was because so many other people connected to him were also secretly communicating with individuals linked to Russia. So don’t take this as indisputable fact even if, based on what we know thus far, it seems entirely plausible.
Donald Trump having one or two somewhat questionable connections to Russia could easily be dismissed as coincidence. But that’s not the case. At this point, it might be easier to list which of Trump’s associates don’t have links to Russia that have only come to light in the past year.
Then you have to factor in Trump’s behavior concerning all of this. Not only does he have a history of heaping praise on Vladimir Putin, but he’s lashed out at U.S. intelligence officials for citing Russia as the culprit behind the cyber attacks against Hillary Clinton and the DNC, and still refuses to truly speak out negatively against Russia despite having plenty of reasons to do so.
Oh, then there’s the tax returns he still refuses to release which many feel may contain evidence proving he’s lied about financial connections to Russia.
Now based on a few things we officially learned on Monday, we know President Obama cautioned Trump about hiring Flynn immediately after the election, and Sally Yates warned his administration weeks before Flynn “resigned” (though he was really fired) that he was lying about his contact with Russia and was viewed as someone they believed could be compromised — yet Trump still made him his top national security advisor and kept him on until he really had no choice but to get rid of him.
This is one of those situations where what took place is clearly important. However, the why behind Trump’s reasoning to keep Flynn around after he had been informed that he lied about his communications with Russia matters even more.
As Franken pointed out, Trump could have suspended Flynn’s security clearance pending further investigation after Yates informed him that he lied to the vice president — but he didn’t.
The bottom line is, in my opinion, practically everything about this situation screams corruption. From Donald Trump’s behavior, to the ridiculous number of people he’s had around him with questionable ties to Russia during the election, for any Republican or Trump supporter to write all of this off as “fake news” is absolutely maddening.
Watch Sen. Al Franken’s comments below:
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