Anyone interested in seeing a pure distillation of the political rot at the heart of the modern Republican Party need only spend a few minutes reviewing footage of today’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
Ostensibly a probe into the origins and legitimacy of Robert Mueller’s investigation into the ties between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia, in reality, the hearing was nothing more than an effort by Senate Republicans to smear Trump’s political enemies and offer a distraction from the GOP’s abysmal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump himself made his party’s ulterior motives abundantly clear this morning when he launched a deranged Twitter attack on Yates, accusing her of being involved in “the greatest political crime of the century.” In paranoid Fox News land, this alleged “political crime” is Obamagate, the nonsensical conspiracy theory that President Trump has cooked up to undermine the former president and muddy the waters of his own associates’ wrongdoings.
Essentially, the GOP Obamagate fiction boils down to an accusation that the Obama administration illegally surveilled Trump’s campaign in the hopes of blocking him from the White House. What right-wingers who peddle the debunked narrative fail to mention is that there were legitimately concerning connections between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives. It was never a partisan operation, it was an investigation launched to ensure the security of our democracy.
The problem with pushing something as incoherent and silly as Obamagate is that anyone with hard facts can immediately shut you down. That’s exactly what happened today when Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), one of the most reliably bad faith actors in Congress, tried to grill Sally Yates.
“When did you first become aware that the Obama administration was surveilling the Donald Trump campaign?” Cruz started off.
“The Obama administration was not surveilling the Donald Trump campaign,” Yates replied bluntly, immediately cutting off Cruz’s talking point.
The senator then tried to play semantic games about the surveillance of former Trump campaign official Carter Page and Yates calmly explained that the surveillance of Page only began after he left the campaign. She went on to explain that Russia only wanted to assist Trump in the election, at which point Cruz grew flustered and tried to interrupt her.
From there, it only went downhill for Cruz as Yates repeatedly debunked his GOP misinformation. Unable to rally a response to her hard facts, he leaned into exasperated sighs and facial expressions, trying in vain to paint her as unreasonable. In the end, all he succeeded in doing was embarrassing himself.
If you’re interested in watching Cruz get smacked down by a woman with ten times his intelligence and integrity, check out the clip below.
WATCH: Sen. @tedcruz grills Sally Yates.
Cruz: "When did you first become aware that the Obama Admin. was surveilling the Donald Trump campaign?"
Sally Yates: "The Obama Admin. was not surveilling the Donald Trump campaign."
Cruz: "So a FISA application is not surveillance?" pic.twitter.com/IJSxalco49
— The Hill (@thehill) August 5, 2020
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