Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton discussed former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ appearance before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee with SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam on Tuesday’s Breitbart News Daily.
Fitton said Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on Friday under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain email records from Yates’ brief tenure as acting Attorney General.
“It was a simple request, but of course we haven’t gotten anything, so that’s why we’re now in federal court trying to get some more answers that might shed some light on some of the key issues she was involved in – namely the Flynn scandal, which wasn’t a scandal about what Flynn did, but what the intelligence agencies and President Trump’s opposition within the bureaucracies did,” he explained, referring to former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn.
“And secondly, her lawless refusal to defend the executive order that President Trump issued related to immigration – a lawlessness which resulted correctly in her firing by Trump,” he added.
Kassam asked why Fitton thought Judicial Watch was not promptly provided with the Yates documents they lawfully requested under the Freedom of Information Act, obliging them to file a federal lawsuit.
“The default position of the bureaucracy is secrecy, and that tends to be the case no matter who’s in office,” Fitton replied. “You need proactive appointees and a proactive administration to force transparency on the agencies. I don’t know what the interest is in the Trump administration in protecting Sally Yates’ emails, which makes me think there really is no interest. We’re just facing a Justice Department that’s used to telling us no.”
Fitton agreed with Kassam that Yates did not squarely address questions about the impropriety of refusing to defend President Trump’s immigration order.
“As Attorney General, she had an obligation to try to make the best case she could for this executive order, and she refused to do so,” he said. “Not only that, she sought to undermine it by ordering her Justice Department not to defend that, when of course there’s a plausible defense. We were not asking her to jump off a bridge. We were asking her to uphold the rule of law here – the president’s lawful authority to regulate foreign nationals who come into the country.”
Fitton noted that Congress ultimately sets immigration policy, which is enforced by the administration.
“The Left doesn’t like that Congress has given the president broad authority to protect the nation from foreign nationals, which President Trump is seemingly exercising,” he said. “We kind of saw the writing on the wall, where these folks are coming from, yesterday in one of the court fights in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, where one of the lawyers for the ACLU who are challenging the EO in its current form suggested that if Hillary Clinton did it, it would have been okay.”
“Sally Yates, if she didn’t want to defend the opinion, she should have stepped aside,” he argued. “We weren’t asking her to do anything against her conscience. If she had a conscientious objection here that was well-founded and was serious, then she should have stepped aside and let someone else do the job. But don’t undermine your client. That’s not ethical. That’s not right.”
Kassam turned to the other storyline from the Senate Judiciary hearings, the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, noting “there is still no evidence of collusion, yet we still repeatedly hear this mantra: ‘Russians hacked the election, Russians leaked the elections, Russians did all sorts of grotesque and unspeakable things to the election.’”
“We’re told this as a matter of fact, but we’re still not being shown any evidence. Was there anything that you saw yesterday that went any further on this issue? Was there anything that gave us any more pause for thought here?” Kassam asked Fitton.
“No, I don’t think the needle moved anywhere from where the real scandal is,” Fitton replied. “No collusion between the Russians and the Trump people. The remaining legal issue of any serious note is the nature of the surveillance, whether it was licit or illicit; the unmasking, whether it was licit or illicit; and the leaking, which we know was illicit.”
“That’s what the criminal investigation ought to be focused on. That’s what the Senate investigation and the House investigations ought to be focused on,” Fitton contended. “I don’t know how many times we need to have someone like James Clapper testify there’s no evidence of collusion before we stop asking the question.”
Kassam wondered how it could be generally accepted that a politician like former President Barack Obama was not vulnerable to blackmail, “given what foreign intelligence agencies would have no doubt dug up on him over the last ten, fifteen years,” but now there are constant allegations that Trump officials like Flynn could be blackmailed by foreign powers.
“I think even a better analogy is Hillary Clinton,” said Fitton. “The FBI director said that they were working on the assumption her material was hacked. That’s one of the reasons we don’t put that type of material out on the Internet equivalent of a park bench – so that our material is protected, and people who lose that information won’t be put at the wrong end of a blackmail operation.”
“Those are the real issues there. You had Hillary Clinton receiving tens of millions of dollars from foreign nationals and foreign governments through her husband while Secretary of State. Those seem to be legal issues that are still pending out there,” he said.
“General Flynn and whether he was compromised by the Russians doesn’t answer the question of what he told the Russians. If you believe the New York Times, and people who worked with the documents, it’s not clear he did anything wrong, or that he even misled the Vice President. So let’s not jump to the conclusions that Sally Yates, a partisan advocate on behalf of Barack Obama, is making,” Fitton said.