Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The rate of uninsured Americans hits a record low as Obamacare's future remains a question mark




The rate of uninsured Americans hits a record low as Obamacare's future remains a question mark

Dan Mangan | @_DanMangan

5 Hours AgoCNBC.com



Hundreds of activists and allies from the newly-formed anti-Trump group Rise & Resist staged a peaceful protest at Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City, to fight against the radical changes to the American healthcare system proposed by the Trump Administration and Republicans.

Erik McGregor | Pacific Press | LightRocket | Getty Images

Hundreds of activists and allies from the newly-formed anti-Trump group Rise & Resist staged a peaceful protest at Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City, to fight against the radical changes to the American healthcare system proposed by the Trump Administration and Republicans.

As fewer Americans lack health insurance, more are squawking about potentially losing it.

A new survey shows that the nation's rate of people without health insurance fell further — yet again — to new lows in 2016, giving Obamacare supporters more ammunition in their ongoing fight to retain the health-care law.

In the first nine months of 2016, just 8.8 percent of Americans — or 28.2 million people — were uninsured. That's a drop of 0.3 percentage points from the same period in 2015.

Since Obamacare's coverage provisions began taking effect in 2010, the nation's uninsured rate has dropped by 7.2 percentage points, from 16 percent. That translates into 20.4 million fewer people who lacked health insurance in 2016 than in 2010. The data come from a survey released Tuesday by the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report found a "significant" drop in the number of adults who were uninsured for more than a year between 2015 and the first nine months of 2016.

For 2015, 9.1 percent of adults reported having been uninsured for more than a year. In the first nine months of 2016, 7.6 percent of adults reported having been uninsured for more than a year.

The report was cited by advocates of Obamacare, more formally known as the Affordable Care Act, as they push back against Republican-led efforts to repeal the law. Republicans argue that Obamacare is a failure, with sharply rising premiums for individual health plans and out of pocket costs that are too high.

"The continued reduction in the uninsured rate is more historic good news from the ACA-- measured in the quality of people's lives," said Andy Slavitt, who until last month served as acting administrator for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"The very people who keep calling the law broken have the ACA's track record of covering more people with high quality benefits as a baseline to improve from," said Slavitt, whose massive former agency oversees the health-care law. "If they stop with repeal and start focusing on improvement opportunities, we can continue to make progress."

Since January, President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress have taken steps toward gutting key parts of the ACA. They also have discussed replacing the law, but so far have not come up with a proposal on how to do that.

At the same time, there have been increasingly vocal protests by people concerned about repeal efforts, with confrontations with members of Congress at town halls and other venues to express their worries. As those protests have grown, Republicans have shown an increasing hesitancy about the pace and scope of repeal.

While many Americans are unhappy with parts of Obamacare, Republicans are now facing the politically difficult — if not impossible task — of rolling back some or all of the law without causing millions of people to lose their insurance.

"Instead of rushing to rip health care away from 30 million people, Republicans need to show us a plan that protects the care millions depend on," said Meaghan Smith, a spokeswoman for the Alliance for Healthcare Security, an Obamacare advocacy group.

The figure Smith cited is based on an Urban Institute report that found about 30 million people could lose health coverage if Congress partially repealed Obamacare through the process known as budget reconciliation, without adopting replacement legislation.

"As growing crowds speak out across the country, new evidence mounts daily showing the devastating impact of Republicans' reckless agenda to repeal our health care and blow up our health-care system without a plan," Smith said.

The ACA has led to unprecedented gains in coverage through a carrot-and-stick approach.

The stick was Obamacare's individual mandate, which required nearly all Americans to have some form of health coverage as of 2014, or pay a fine in the form of a tax penalty.

The carrot was a set of provisions that made it easier for people to get health coverage, and which in turn helped drive down the uninsured rate. The first provision to take effect was the ACA rule allowing people under age 26 to be covered by their parents' health plans.

The impact of that provision was underscored in Tuesday's report, which showed that adults ages 18 to 24 have seen their uninsured rates plunge from more than 30 percent in 2010 to 13.6 percent as of last September.

The second provision was generous levels of federal funding for states that agreed to expand their Medicaid programs to cover nearly all poor adults. More than 10 million people have become covered through that provision as 31 states adopted the expansion.

The third provision was the creation of Obamacare insurance exchanges, which sell private individual health plans. Most customers on those exchanges have low and moderate incomes, which qualifies them for federal subsidies that lower their plan's premium payments. More than 12 million people signed up for coverage on those exchanges for 2017 plans.

Tuesday's report noted that, among age groups, adults ages 25 to 34 years old have the highest uninsured rate, of 16.4 percent. Adults age 45 to 64 have an uninsured rate of just 8.6 percent.

Hispanics have the highest uninsured rate among ethnic groups, at 24.7 percent. But they've also have seen that rate fall from around 45 percent since 2010. Blacks have an uninsured rate of 15.1 percent. Whites have the lowest uninsured rate, at just 7.8 percent.

People classified as "not poor" have seen just a 4 percentage point drop, roughly, in their uninsured rates since 2010, according to the report.

But there have been sharp drops in the uninsured rates among those classified as "near poor" or "poor." Those groups, whose uninsured rates stood above 40 percent in 2010, fell well below 30 percent by last September.

The uninsured rate among poor Americans was 26 percent, while it was 23 percent for near-poor people.

Dan Mangan

Above is from:  http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/14/the-rate-of-uninsured-americans-hits-a-record-low-as-obamacares-future-remains-a-question-mark.html?__source=newsletter%7Ceveningbrief

F.B.I. Interviewed Flynn in Trump’s First Days in Office, Officials Say



WASHINGTON — F.B.I. agents interviewed Michael T. Flynn when he was national security adviser in the first days of the Trump administration about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, current and former officials said on Tuesday.

While it is not clear what he said in his F.B.I. interview, investigators believed that Mr. Flynn was not entirely forthcoming, the officials said. That raises the stakes of what so far has been a political scandal that cost Mr. Flynn his job. If the authorities conclude that Mr. Flynn knowingly lied to the F.B.I., it could expose him to a felony charge. President Trump asked for Mr. Flynn’s resignation Monday night.

Mr. Flynn maintained publicly for more than a week after his interview that his conversations with the ambassador had been innocuous and did not involve sanctions against Russia, something now known to be false.


Shortly after the F.B.I. interview, on Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, told the White House that Mr. Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail because of inconsistencies between what he had said publicly and what intelligence officials knew to be true.

At issue is a conversation during the presidential transition in which Mr. Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador about sanctions levied against Russia by the Obama administration. The call spurred an investigation by the F.B.I. into whether Mr. Flynn had violated the rarely invoked Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in disputes with the United States.


The National Security Agency routinely eavesdrops on calls involving high-ranking foreign diplomats. Mr. Flynn was not a focus of the eavesdropping, officials said.

It is not clear whether Mr. Flynn had a lawyer for his interview with the F.B.I. or whether anyone at the White House, including lawyers there, knew the interview was happening.

OPEN Document

Document: Michael Flynn’s Resignation Letter

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump was made aware of the situation weeks ago. Mr. Spicer said the White House had reviewed the situation and determined that Mr. Flynn did not violate any laws during his call with the Russian ambassador.

Mr. Spicer said Mr. Flynn was asked to resign because he had lost the trust of the president and vice president.

In late December, Mr. Flynn spoke with Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. During the call, Mr. Flynn and the ambassador discussed sanctions, according to current and former United States officials. In the call, Mr. Flynn indicated that the Obama administration was Moscow’s adversary and that relations would change under Mr. Trump.

But on Jan. 14, Mr. Flynn told Vice President Mike Pence that he had not discussed sanctions in his call. The next day, Mr. Pence went on “Fox News Sunday” and declared: “I talked to General Flynn yesterday, and the conversations that took place at that time were not in any way related to the new U.S. sanctions against Russia or the expulsion of diplomats.”

Even after F.B.I. agents later interviewed Mr. Flynn and Ms. Yates warned the White House, Mr. Flynn denied yet again — this time to The Washington Post on Wednesday — that he had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

Above is from:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/politics/fbi-interviewed-mike-flynn.html?emc=edit_na_20170214&nl=breaking-news&nlid=53444314&ref=cta&_r=0

Secretary of Labor Nominee in trouble?



Oprah gives tape with Puzder abuse allegations to Senate

By Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine

02/13/17 03:56 PM EST


Senators in both parties have viewed an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in which President Donald Trump's Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder's former wife leveled allegations of physical abuse against him, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The decades-old video, which is not easily found, has been provided by the Oprah Winfrey Network, those sources said. The video has been provided to senators in a Capitol Hill office building, according to people who have seen it. OWN did not immediately comment for this story.

"I’ve arranged for senators on the committee to see that ... I thought that was a reasonable request. No reason not to see it," said Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). "That happened 27 years ago. His former wife has said it was all not true. She has reiterated that in a heartfelt letter to members of the committee and has been willing to talk to members of the committee so I don’t think that’s an issue. “

The episode is called "High-Class Battered Women," according to a source familiar with the matter. It aired in March, 1990.

Alexander said he supports Puzder's nomination. But Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the HELP Committee that will vote on Puzder's nomination, said she was "deeply troubled" by the video.

"It was important for us to know all of the information about any candidate that comes before us," Murray said in an interview.

Last month POLITICO reported that Puzder's former wife, Lisa Fierstein, appeared in disguise on Oprah to discuss her abuse allegations, which she has since retracted, most recently in a letter to the Senate HELP Committee. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has reviewed the episode, as well.


White House

The husband-and-wife team driving Trump's national security policy

By Eli Stokols, Bryan Bender and Michael Crowley

Collins is among at least four GOP senators undecided on Puzder, whose confirmation hearing has been scheduled for Thursday. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Tim Scott of South Carolina are also not decided on his nomination. All serve on the HELP Committee. Puzder can only lose two GOP votes if all Democrats oppose his nomination on the Senate floor. It could take just one GOP defection to tag his nomination as "unfavorable" in a committee vote, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could still bring the nomination to the floor.

The abuse allegations are only one of the controversies dogging Puzder. His nomination was rocked last week after his spokesman said he had employed an undocumented immigrant for years. The fast-food executive also apprenticed to a Mafia-connected lawyer early in his career, drew criticism for conditions for workers at his CKE restaurant chain and faced accusations of sexism over advertisements showing bikini-clad women eating his company's hamburgers.

Scott bristled at reports that indicated he opposed Puzder. Still, he said it was "concerning" that it took Puzder five years to pay back taxes on the undocumented immigrant who once worked for him.

"I have not come out with a position," Scott said. "I've never said I was opposed to him, at all."

Collins did not say whether the video swayed her. The Maine senator also said she'd inquired about making the video public but was told it was merely being provided so senators could come to their own decisions.

"I was told that it's owned by the Oprah Network and they will not share it. I couldn't even have my staff view it," she said.

Not all senators on the HELP Committee have seen it. Both Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Tim Kaine of Virginia said they had not.

GOP leaders said that they were confident Puzder would prevail regardless of the swirl of controversy around him. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has called on Trump to withdraw Puzder's nomination, which is now Democrats' top target as Republican leaders fight to get their 52-member caucus behind him.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the nomination was "all good."

Above is from:  http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/susan-collins-andrew-puzder-oprah-tape-allegations-234964

10 unanswered questions after Michael Flynn’s resignation



The Daily 202

10 unanswered questions after Michael Flynn’s resignation

Here's why Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned after just 24 days



with Breanne Deppisch

THE BIG IDEA: President Trump should thank his lucky stars that Republicans control both chambers of Congress, because Democrats would be announcing a Benghazi-style inquest today if they could.

Michael Flynn lost his job as national security adviser after just 24 days less because he offered potentially-illegal secret assurances to Russia’s ambassador, an adversary of the United States, but because he gave an inaccurate accounting of those conversations to his colleagues in the White House, particularly Vice President Mike Pence.

This imbroglio will make it politically untenable for Trump to scale back sanctions on Moscow now. The blowback from hawkish Republicans in the Senate would be too intense, hobbling the rest of the president’s agenda. The episode will probably give added momentum to John McCain’s effort to codify existing sanctions into law so that the administration cannot unilaterally unwind them.

But there is much we still do not know. Here are 10 questions that have become critical in the wake of last night’s news:

Trump, Mike Pence, and Reince Priebus walk on the south lawn of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)</p>

Trump, Mike Pence, and Reince Priebus walk on the south lawn of the White House. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

1. What, if anything, did Trump authorize Flynn to tell the Russians before his inauguration?

2. Why was Trump planning to stand by Flynn? “One senior White House official said that Trump did not fire Flynn; rather, Flynn made the decision to resign on his own late Monday evening because of what this official said was ‘the cumulative effect’ of damaging news coverage about his conversations with the Russian envoy,” Greg Miller and Philip Rucker report. “This official, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the situation, said Trump does not relish firing people — despite his television persona on ‘The Apprentice’ — and had intended to wait several more days before deciding whether to seek Flynn’s resignation. ‘There obviously were a lot of issues, but the president was hanging in there,’ this official said.”

Don McGahn leaves the Four Seasons Hotel. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)</p>

Don McGahn leaves the Four Seasons Hotel. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

3. What did White House counsel Donald McGahn do after the then-acting attorney general notified him last month that Flynn was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail? “In the waning days of the Obama administration, James R. Clapper Jr., who was the director of national intelligence, and John Brennan, the CIA director at the time, shared (Sally) Yates’s concerns and concurred with her recommendation to inform the Trump White House,” Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Philip Rucker report. “They feared that ‘Flynn had put himself in a compromising position’ and thought that Pence had a right to know that he had been misled. … Yates, then the deputy attorney general, considered Flynn’s comments in the intercepted call to be ‘highly significant’ and ‘potentially illegal,’ according to an official familiar with her thinking. … A senior Trump administration official said before Flynn’s resignation that the White House was aware of the matter, adding that ‘we’ve been working on this for weeks.’”

Yates was accompanied by a senior career national security official when she alerted McGahn. What we don’t know is who McGahn subsequently shared that information with and what he did after the meeting. He didn’t respond to a request for comment last night from my colleagues.

“It’s unimaginable that the White House general counsel would sit on it (and) not tell anybody else in the White House,” said David Gergen, who worked in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton administrations. “In every White House I’ve ever been in, this would go to the president like that,” he added during an interview on CNN, snapping his fingers.

If McGahn did indeed tell others, especially the president, how come Flynn kept his job until last night?

Trump shakes hands with James Comey&nbsp;at the White House last month. (Andrew Harrer/EPA)</p>

Trump shakes hands with James Comey at the White House last month. (Andrew Harrer/EPA)

4. What is the status of the FBI investigation into possible contacts between Trump associates and Russia? FBI Director James B. Comey initially opposed Yates notifying McGahn, citing concerns that it could complicate the bureau’s ongoing investigation. “A turning point came after Jan. 23, when (Sean) Spicer, in his first official media briefing, again was asked about Flynn’s communications with (Ambassador Sergey) Kislyak,” Adam, Ellen and Phil report. “Spicer said that he had talked to Flynn about the issue ‘again last night.’ There was just ‘one call,’ Spicer said. And it covered four subjects: a plane crash that claimed the lives of a Russian military choir; Christmas greetings; Russian-led talks over the Syrian civil war; and the logistics of setting up a call between Putin and Trump. Spicer said that was the extent of the conversation. Yates again raised the issue with Comey, who now backed away from his opposition to informing the White House.” Yates then spoke to McGahn. 

Sean Spicer continues to be on the defensive in the briefing room. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)</p>

Sean Spicer continues to be on the defensive in the briefing room. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

5. Will Spicer and Pence apologize for making false statements to the American people? There is no doubt that both men would have called on their counterparts in the Obama administration to do so if the shoe was on the other foot, even if the falsehoods were unintentional. Their future credibility depends on coming clean and being contrite.

In his resignation letter, Flynn noted that he apologized to Pence and others: “Because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador. I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.” Will those he apologized to pay it forward to the rest of us? (Read Flynn’s one-page letter here.)

Sally Yates in her office at the Justice Department before she got fired. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)</p>

Sally Yates in her office at the Justice Department before she got fired. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

6. Will Flynn face prosecution under the Logan Act? Yates and other intelligence officials suspected that Flynn could be in violation of the obscure 1799 statute, which bars U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another country. But no one has ever been prosecuted under that law, so it is very, very unlikely.

Another mitigating factor: Jeff Sessions got confirmed as attorney general despite refusing to commit to recuse himself from DOJ inquiries into Trump and other administration officials. 

Marco Rubio at the Capitol. (Zach Gibson/AP)</p>

Marco Rubio at the Capitol. (Zach Gibson/AP)

7. What will the Senate Intelligence Committee uncover about contacts Flynn and others affiliated with Trump had with Russia before the election? U.S. intelligence reports during the 2016 campaign showed that Kislyak was in touch with Flynn, several sources have said. Communications between the two continued after Nov. 8. The Russian ambassador has even confirmed having contacts with Flynn before and after the election, though he declined to say what was discussed.

The committee led by Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is continuing to explore Russian efforts to interfere with the election, including the intelligence community’s assessment that the Kremlin was attempting to tilt the election to Trump. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the committee, told reporters a few hours before Flynn resigned that his contacts with the Russian ambassador are part of the bipartisan inquiry. “This and anything else that involves the Russians,” Rubio said, per Kelsey Snell. “We’re going to go wherever the truth leads us.”

Trump and Keith Kellogg, right, listen as Jeff Sessions speaks during a campaign event at Trump Tower last October. (Evan Vucci/AP)</p>

Trump and Keith Kellogg, right, listen as Jeff Sessions speaks during a campaign event at Trump Tower last October. (Evan Vucci/AP)

8. Who replaces Flynn? Trump has named Keith Kellogg, a decorated retired Army lieutenant general, as acting national security adviser. Sources say that he is one of three candidates Trump is considering as a permanent replacement. The others are former CIA director David H. Petraeus and Vice Adm. Robert Harward, a former deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command.

Two White House sources tell Bob Costa that Harward emerged overnight as the front-runner to get the post. (Pence is leading the discussions.) He is seen as a safe and steady, low-profile consensus pick, which is appealing after the tumult that swirled around Flynn. Harward worked on the NSC during George W. Bush’s presidency, focused on counterterrorism strategy. He’s from Rhode Island and attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He’s worked on SEAL teams and was a commander in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If Trump settles on Harward – always an “if” with Trump – that’s a huge win for Jim Mattis. He served under the secretary of defense back when he was at Central Command and remains both an ally and friend. Harward has been under consideration as a possible undersecretary of defense for intelligence. 

K.T. McFarland in the Oval Office last week. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)</p>

K.T. McFarland in the Oval Office last week. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

9. Who else leaves the White House because Flynn is gone? Flynn’s departure means that the people he brought with him are likely to go too. The new national security adviser will want his own loyalists. Kellogg is considered a Flynn guy, the New York Times notes, as is K.T. McFarland, the deputy national security adviser. She is expected to leave soon.

Reince Priebus, Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer and Michael Flynn listen at Trump speaks by phone with Vladimir Putin on Jan. 28. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)</p>

Reince Priebus, Mike Pence, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer and Michael Flynn listen at Trump speaks by phone with Vladimir Putin on Jan. 28. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

10. Who exactly is in charge at the White House? Yesterday was just the latest illustration of the chaos and dysfunction that plague the infant administration. Officials found themselves in an uncomfortable holding pattern for much of Monday, unsure about whether to defend Flynn and privately grumbling about the president’s indecisiveness.

“After Trump made it through a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau without being asked about Flynn, a group of reporters gathered outside Spicer’s office for more than 80 minutes,” Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report. “Spicer twice declined to answer questions about Flynn. When chief of staff Reince Priebus walked by, he was asked whether the president still had confidence in Flynn. Priebus gave no answer. Then, a few minutes later, Kellyanne Conway, the counselor to the president, declared on MSNBC that Trump had ‘full confidence’ in Flynn. Yet a few minutes later after that, Spicer issued an official — and conflicting — statement, saying Trump was ‘evaluating the situation.’” A few hours after that, Flynn was gone.

Conservative columnist Michael Gerson, a veteran of George W. Bush’s White House, opens his column today with a damning anecdote: Last month, Paul Ryan met with a delegation from the president-elect on tax reform. Attending were Priebus, Conway, Stephen K. Bannon, Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller. As the meeting began, Ryan pointedly asked, “Who’s in charge?” There was silence.

“It is still the right question,” Michael writes. “Former officials with deep knowledge of the presidency describe Trump’s White House staff as top-heavy, with five or six power centers and little vertical structure. ‘The desire to be a big shot is overrunning any sense of team,’ says one experienced Republican. ‘This will cause terrible dysfunction, distraction, disloyalty and leaks.’”

Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn resigns


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Associated Press logoAssociated Press

Associated Press

JULIE PACE, ERIC TUCKER and JILL COLVIN, Associated Press1 hr ago




WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned following reports he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his contacts with Russia. His departure upends Trump's senior team after less than a month in office.

In a resignation letter, Flynn said he gave Vice President Mike Pence and others "incomplete information" about his calls with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. The vice president, apparently relying on information from Flynn, initially said the national security adviser had not discussed sanctions with the Russian envoy, though Flynn later conceded the issue may have come up.

Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg as the acting national security adviser. Kellogg had previously been appointed the National Security Council chief of staff and advised Trump during the campaign. Trump is also considering former CIA Director David Petraeus and Vice Admiral Robert Harward, a U.S. Navy SEAL, for the post, according to a senior administration official. FILE- In this Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump passes Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as he arrives via Air Force One at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. A top White House aide sidestepped repeated chances Sunday, Feb. 12, to publicly defend Flynn following reports that he engaged in conversations with a Russian diplomat about U.S. sanctions before Trump's inauguration. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)© The Associated Press FILE- In this Monday, Feb. 6, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump passes Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, left, and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as he arrives via Air Force One at Ma…

The Trump team's account of Flynn's discussions with the Russian envoy changed repeatedly over several weeks, including the number of contacts, the dates of those contacts and ultimately, the content of the conversations.

Late last month, the Justice Department warned the White House that Flynn could be in a compromised position as a result of the contradictions between the public depictions of the calls and what intelligence officials knew to be true based on recordings of the conversations, which were picked up as part of routine monitoring of foreign officials' communications in the U.S.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Flynn was in frequent contact with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the day the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia for election-related hacking, as well as at other times during the transition.

An administration official and two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed the Justice Department warnings on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. It was unclear when Trump and Pence learned about the Justice Department outreach.

The Washington Post was the first to report the communication between former acting attorney general Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration, and the Trump White House. The Post also first reported last week that Flynn had indeed spoken about sanctions with the Russian ambassador.

Trump never voiced public support for Flynn after that initial report and continued to keep his national security adviser close.

But White House officials sent contradictory messages about Flynn's status. Counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump had "full confidence" in Flynn, while press secretary Sean Spicer said the president was "evaluating the situation" and consulting with Pence about his conversations with the national security adviser.

Asked whether the president had been aware that Flynn might have planned to discuss sanctions with the Russian envoy, Spicer said, "No, absolutely not."

The Kremlin had confirmed that Flynn was in contact with Kislyak but denied that they talked about lifting sanctions. On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers mounted a fierce defense of Flynn.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said in a post on Facebook that firing a national security adviser for his contacts with Russia is "not just paranoia but something even worse." Kosachev also expressed frustration at the Trump administration:

"Either Trump hasn't found the necessary independence and he's been driven into a corner... or russophobia has permeated the new administration from top to bottom," he said.

Kosachev's counterpart at the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, Alexei P ushkov, tweeted shortly after the announcement that "it was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia."

Flynn's discussions with the Russian raised questions about whether he offered assurances about the incoming administration's new approach. Such conversations would breach diplomatic protocol and possibly violate the Logan Act, a law aimed at keeping citizens from conducting diplomacy.

Administration officials said that misleading Pence was ultimately Flynn's downfall, though they insisted he resigned and was not fired by Trump.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Flynn's resignation "does not end questions over his contacts with the Russians." He said the White House has yet to be forthcoming about whether Flynn was acting at the behest of the president or others.

Flynn's resignation comes as Trump and his top advisers seek to steady the White House after a rocky start. The president, who seeks input from a wide range of business associates, friends and colleagues, has been asking people their opinions on his senior team, including Spicer and chief of staff Reince Priebus.

Flynn was a loyal Trump supporter during the campaign, but he was viewed skeptically by some in the administration's national security circles, in part because of his ties to Russia. In 2015, he was paid to attend a gala dinner for Russia Today, a Kremlin-backed television station, and sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin during the event.

Flynn apologized to Pence about the matter on Friday, according to an administration official. The official said Pence was relying on information from Flynn when he went on television and denied that sanctions were discussed with Kislyak.

Above is from:  http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-national-security-adviser-michael-flynn-resigns/ar-AAmS0ZI?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp


Sally Yates

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Yates

Sally Yates

Sally Q. Yates.jpg

United States Attorney General

In office
January 20, 2017 – January 30, 2017

Donald Trump

Preceded by
Loretta Lynch

Succeeded by
Dana Boente (acting)

United States Deputy Attorney General

In office
January 10, 2015 – January 30, 2017

Succeeded by
John Horn

Personal details

Sally Caroline Quillian
August 20, 1960 (age 56)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

University of Georgia (BA, JD)

Sally Caroline Yates (née Quillian; born August 20, 1960) is an American lawyer. She served as a United States Attorney and later United States Deputy Attorney General, having been appointed to both positions by President Barack Obama.

Following the inauguration of Donald Trump and the departure of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Yates served as Acting Attorney General from January 20, 2017, until being dismissed by President Trump on January 30, following her instruction to the Justice Department not to defend Trump's immigration-related executive order in court.[1][2]

Early life and education

Yates was born in Atlanta to J. Kelley Quillian, an attorney and judge who served as a judge on Georgia Court of Appeals between 1966-84, and Xara Terrell Quillian.[3] Her grandmother had been one of the first women admitted to the Georgia Bar, however, she was not hired as an attorney, instead working as a legal secretary for Yates' grandfather.[4]

She attended the University of Georgia, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism in 1982. In 1986, she earned a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law, graduating magna cum laude. While in law school, Yates served as the executive editor of the Georgia Law Review.[5][6]


From 1985-89, Yates practiced with the law firm King & Spalding in Atlanta. In 1989, she was hired as Assistant U.S. Attorney by Bob Barr for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia.[7] Early in her career at the Department of Justice, Yates prosecuted a variety of types of cases including white-collar fraud and political corruption.[6] In 1994, she became Chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section. She was the lead prosecutor in the case of Eric Rudolph, who committed the Centennial Olympic Park bombing,[8] a terrorist convicted for a series of anti-abortion and anti-gay bombings across the southern United States between 1996 and 1998, which killed two people and injured over 120 others.[9] She rose to First Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2002 and to Acting U.S. Attorney in 2004. In the U.S. Attorney's office she held leadership positions under both Republican and Democratic administrations.[10]

President Barack Obama nominated Yates to be U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia. She was confirmed by the Senate on March 10, 2010.[7] Yates was the first woman to hold that position in the Northern District of Georgia.[6] During her time as a U.S. Attorney, Yates was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to serve as Vice Chair of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee.[7]

Deputy Attorney General

On May 13, 2015, the United States Senate voted 84–12 to confirm Yates as Deputy Attorney General of the United States, the second-highest-ranking position in the Justice Department;[11][12] during her confirmation hearing, when questioned by Senator Jeff Sessions if she would disobey a president's unlawful orders, she responded that she would have an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give an independent legal advice to the president.[13] She served under Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who took office shortly before Yates's confirmation.[6][14]

Yates, in her confirmation hearing, when questioned by Senator Sessions on disobeying lawful orders by the president, responded that she will have an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give and independent legal advice to the president.[15]

As Deputy Attorney General, Yates was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Justice Department, which included approximately 113,000 employees. In 2015, she authored the policy, known as the "Yates memo", prioritizing the prosecution of executives for corporate crimes.[16][17] During the final days of the Obama administration, she oversaw the review of 16,000 petitions for executive clemency, making recommendations to the President.[18]

Acting United States Attorney General

In January 2017, according to a Justice Department spokesman, Yates accepted a request from the incoming Trump Administration to serve as Acting Attorney General, beginning on January 20, 2017, and until the successor for Attorney General Lynch would be confirmed by the United States Senate.[19]

In late January, Yates warned the Trump Administration that National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn had not been truthful about his contacts with Russia related to sanctions and that he was vulnerable to blackmail by Russian intelligence. This led to Flynn's resignation on February 13, 2017.[20][21]

On January 30, 2017, Yates ordered the Justice Department not to defend Trump's executive order on travel and immigration, writing in a letter to DOJ staff:

At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities of the Department of Justice, nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful...I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. For as long as I am the acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of th[is] executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.[22][23][24]

In response to her decision not to defend the order, former Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted that he trusted her judgment.[25]

Letter from Sally Yates explaining her view of Executive Order 13769

Later that day, via hand-delivered letter, she was dismissed by the Trump administration and replaced with Dana Boente, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.[26][16] In a White House statement, Yates was said to have "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States".[27]

Reactions to dismissal

Main article: Monday Night Massacre

White House Press Release about dismissal

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Yates's actions "a profile in courage. It was a brave act and a right act", while Rep. John Conyers criticized the decision to fire her: "If dedicated government officials deem [Trump's] directives to be unlawful and unconstitutional, he will simply fire them as if government is a reality show."[28]

Law professor Jonathan Adler said, however, that "Yates did not claim she was convinced the order was unlawful, but only that it was not 'wise or just'" and that he was "not aware of any instance in which the Justice Department has refused to defend a presumptively lawful executive action on this basis". Adler argued that she should have resigned.[29] (Yates is reported to have considered resigning, but said she did not want to leave her successor facing the same question.)[30][31]

The editors of National Review said her defiance of the executive order was "inappropriate", since Yates was unelected and "every official in the Justice Department knows, if one disagrees with the law one is called upon to apply, or the policy one is bound to enforce, one is free to resign".[32]

The New York Times and others drew comparisons to U.S. President Richard Nixon's dismissal of special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre and "some cable networks"[33] began calling Yates's dismissal the "Monday Night Massacre".[34][33][35] Watergate investigative journalist Carl Bernstein, however, speaking on CNN, rejected the comparison. "There’s a big difference, because the Saturday Night Massacre was really about firing the attorney general when Nixon was the target of an investigation and was actively obstructing justice", he said. "I think the president is within his rights here to fire the attorney general, that he has that ability."[36]

Following Yates' dismissal, Representative Jackie Speier nominated her for the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.[37]

Personal life

Yates's husband, Comer Yates, is a school administrator who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1996.[38][39] The couple have two children.