Clapper says he ordered Trump unmasking, Yates says she reviewed info
By TATIANA PROPHET
The only story of the day was that Sally Yates said she had warned the White House that Gen. Michael Flynn was vulnerable to being blackmailed by Russia. This sounded oddly familiar to me, so I checked and sure enough, this exact information and wording had already come out in the Washington Post in February.
Yet it was literally the headline of every single major news outlet on Monday as the takeaway from the long-awaited testimony by the former acting attorney general before the Senate Intelligence Committee. What's more, it's No. 1 in trending on Facebook. Yes, the idea that Sally Yates was concerned about the Russian potential for blackmailing Michael Flynn, revealed on February 13, is the No. 1 trending story on Facebook.
So forgive me if I decide to focus on something new. Another new item that has so far escaped headlines (I think) is, several senators as well as Yates testified that it was 18 days after her warning that Trump fired Flynn. Since anyone could have done this math at any point since Flynn's firing, I'm not sure it is the second most important takeaway from the day, although it was headlined that way.
What I see as more surprising new information is the admission by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that he had requested the unmasking of Trump, and by Yates that she reviewed the intelligence on Trump.
Other than that, both witnesses, as well as James Comey last week in front of the same committee, basically demurred when asked anything of substance about the investigation into Trump's ties with Russia and possible collusion to influence the election. In fact, as some more Trump-supportive outlets are reporting, Clapper reaffirmed that there was no evidence of such collusion, while Yates decline to answer, then made a point to say that her answer did not indicate the existence of evidence or absence of it.
"There was no evidence of that included in our report," Grassley repeated a quote from Clapper from an interview with Chuck Todd.
Grassley: "Chuck Todd then asked, I understand that, but does it exist? You say no, not to my knowledge. Is that still accurate?"
Clapper: "It is."
Here is the testimony on the unmasking:
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa:
Mr. Clapper and Ms. Yates, did either of you ever request the unmasking of Mr. Trump, his associates or any member of Congress?
Clapper: [Long pause.] Um, yes. In one case I did. I can specifically recall, but I can’t discuss any further than that.
Grassley. You can’t?
Clapper: Not here.
Grassley: Did either of you review classified documents in which Mr. Trump, his associates had been unmasked?
Clapper: Well, yes.
Grassley: Can you give us details here?
Clapper: No I can’t.
Yates: Yes I have, and no I cannot give you details.
Grassley: Did either of you ever share any details with associates or members of congress or anyone else?
Clapper: Thinking back on 6 and a half years, I could have discussed it with either my deputy or my general counsel.
Yates: In the course of the Flynn matter, I had discussions with other members of the intel community, I'm not sure if that responds to your question.
Grassley: And in both cases, you can’t give details here.