Al Franken Lays Out An Almost Foolproof Explanation For Why Trump Waited So Long To Fire Michael Flynn

Former Deputy General Sally Yates and former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spent Monday afternoon testifying about Russian election interference in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Yates revealed that she spoke to White House counsel multiple times to share the Department of Justice’s concerns that Flynn could be blackmailed. And her testimony ultimately showed that the White House lied about Flynn (with many of the falsehoods coming from Sean Spicer), but one important part of the hearing arrived when Senator Al Franken questioned Yates and Clapper.

The Minnesota senator got very real while asking why it took Trump eighteen days to fire Flynn after these warnings. The above clip (and there’s a longer one below) shows Franken’s ultimate assessment — that Trump “didn’t get rid of a guy who lied to the vice president, who got paid by the Russians, who went on Russia Today” and who was “a danger to this republic” for one big reason. Franken believes that this foot dragging happened because there were multiple other Trump associates who “who met secretly with the Russians and didn’t reveal it until later — until they were caught.”

This assessment could be a damning one, and it’s worth exploring the longer explanation by Franken to see the full picture (which is terrible for Trump).

In the below video, Franken details how Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner, and more all have varying degrees of Russian ties, but Flynn was the one who was appearing on Russian propaganda TV and scooping up a $37,000 paycheck while dining next to Vladimir Putin. Flynn also spoke about sanctions with the Russian ambassador, and Franken imagines that Trump didn’t think he could fire Flynn without having to fire all the other helpers in the equation:

“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.”

Indeed, it’s hard to formulate any other argument for why Trump waited so long to Flynn. And if this is all true — that Trump knew about all these Russian contacts — he won’t be able to play dumb for much longer.

Maybe that’s one reason why Trump was trying to gaslight everything that was revealed in the hearing. You can watch Franken’s full discussion — he asked Yates to comment, but she wasn’t about “to touch that” (and certainly couldn’t, but Franken had already made the case) — about Trump’s inordinately long wait time below.