The morning of May 8th, hours before former acting Attorney General Sally Yates' testimony before congress, it was reported that former president Barack Obama had warned trump during their November 10th, 2016 meeting after Trump's election win not to hire General (and Vladimir Putin's dining partner) Mike Flynn into his administration. Mike Flynn was once the director of the DIA under Obama, only to be fired due to general incompetence and poor management. The same morning, in anticipation of the hearing and before Obama's suggestion had become known, Trump tweeted the following:

A familiar feeling for Trump, egg meets face.

Sally Yates testimony

Also before her testimony, Trump decided to engage in some old-fashioned witness intimidation, tweeting:

As per usual for Trump, these tweets came knowing there would be little good to come of the hearings from Yates. While she was badgered with irrelevant questions about surveillance, unmasking, and Hillary Clinton's e-mails, the most significant aspects of her testimony regarded Mike Flynn.

According to the Washington Post's breakdown of the hearings, in early 2017 it was revealed that Flynn was speaking with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late 2016.

Flynn claimed he was exchanging holiday well wishes and not discussing the sanctions put down on Russia by then-president Obama. Vice president Mike Pence made the morning talk show circuit repeating Flynn's lie. Yates said that she, as acting Attorney General, contacted the Trump administration's top lawyer, Don McGahn, to inform him that they knew Flynn was misleading the vice president due to "routine intelligence" gathering on Kislyak.

Yates' concern was that A) Flynn was putting Pence in the position of misinforming the American public (she made clear that there was no reason to suspect Pence knew anything otherwise) and B) that since Flynn lied to Pence, and since Pence went on national television and repeated the lie, the Russians knew Flynn lied. Thus, Flynn was subject to blackmail from Russia and compromised.

Flynn (if he wasn't already before) was a Russian asset in the administration.

Don McGahn contacted Yates shortly thereafter and was confused by Yates' point in telling him. McGahn wanted to know why it was her concern if white house staff lied to one another and if the Department of Justice intended on pursuing charges against Flynn. Yates did not reveal if the DOJ was. Yates was fired several days later, the official story being that it was due to her failing to support Trump's travel ban executive order. The Washington Post contextualized Yates' testimony with the administration's public actions at the time, saying that their legal team had reviewed Flynn's story decided no action was required.

The Trump administration fired Flynn on February 13th after the Washington Post reported that Flynn spoke with Kislyak explicitly about lifting the sanctions placed by Obama, not before Flynn was in on a phone call with Trump and Putin in the Oval Office.

Trump's convenient ignorance

On February 11th, Trump was confronted by reporters on Air Force One regarding reports that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Trump acted with surprise, saying that he was unaware and that he would "look into that." Weeks after Flynn's firing it was revealed that he was working as a paid foreign agent of Turkey and had failed to disclose that information. The White House claimed not to know, a considerable incongruity in policy considering their ramping up of "extreme-vetting" of foreign immigrants does not apply to administration members.

Even before Yates' testimony, it would be astonishing if it were true that Trump did not know of Flynn's deep Russian connections. In December 2015, Flynn gave paid remarks at RT's (a Russian government-owned media outlet) anniversary event where he was seated next to Vladimir Putin, this after several appearances on the propaganda network's programming in the intervening years since he was fired by Obama. Mike Flynn's consulting firm worked for Turkey's autocratic ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, even discussing with the Turkish government the extradition of one of Erdoğan's political opponents who had been given asylum in the United States. The significance here, of course, is the Turkish government's close relationship with Russia in regards to Syria.

Also of note is Trump's ignorance that his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was a Ukranian government foreign agent (a Ukranian government that, you guessed it, is Putin-allied), or that foreign policy adviser Carter Page was in contact with Russian spies, or that his current anti-terrorism adviser (who couldn't even gain security clearance) Sebastian Gorka was a member of a Hungarian Nazi-affiliated group, or that his Attorney General Jeff Sessions held private talks with ambassador Kislyak himself.

The big picture

Once the testimony from Yates that she had informed the Trump administration that Flynn had spoken to Kislyak about lifting sanctions is priced into the equation, there is no reason to believe that a competent executive would not have been aware that their National Security Adviser was compromised by Russia.

It would take such a galling level of incompetence in management that it would not be unreasonable to suggest invoking the 25th amendment which states in section 4 that the Vice-President and a majority of the presidential cabinet or congress can deem a president "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" and transfer power to the Vice-President. The definition and terms of being "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" are intentionally ambiguous in order not to restrain its invocation in extreme situations. Reasons for inducing it can include this exact sort of utter incompetency. Section 4 has never been invoked, coming closest to the end of Reagan's second term due to his apparent incompetence (ultimately Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's after he left office) where his cabinet had been making preparations for it.

While there have been some to question Trump's mental health, the sort of incompetence that could be cited here is the lack of fundamental ability to perform the job. He was empirically terrible at the job he was famous for in his previous life with his businesses going bankrupt multiple times. How could it be possible that Trump did not know just that Mike Flynn was a Russian asset, but that at least four associates (Manafort, Page, Jeff Sessions, and Roger Stone) were as well? It would require being every bit of a careless and vacuous executive to allow his administration to be so compromised.

Or we can apply Occam's razor. Either Trump had absolutely no clue that several of his senior campaign staff, advisers, and surrogates were paid by regimes beholden to Russia, or were striking deals at the Republican National Convention to ease sanctions and forge a pro-Russian Republican platform, or the biggest crime of all, coordinating with Russia with the release of hacked data from the DNC and John Podesta, or he knew.

The conclusion that there was a vast conspiracy not only to push pro-Russian interests in the Trump campaign and that conspiracy was kept from Trump requires far greater leaps of reason than the simple conclusion that Trump was aware and at best didn't care or at worst, condoned it. Any of the above would be considered nothing less than treason.

How this ends

According to intelligence community insider and former NSA spy, John Schindler, there is more than enough SIGINT (signals intelligence) to take down the Trump administration. The problem is that often SIGINT cannot be admitted into open court due to the fact it requires the use of classified information. Most often, cases such as this are broken by someone involved in the crime spilling the beans.

Mike Flynn had at one point publicly asked for immunity in exchange for his testimony and was not granted it. With the testimony from Sally Yates, it appears there is plenty of reason for Mike Flynn to be worried. Paul Manafort is likely the next on the list of candidates to flip considering his failing to register as a foreign agent after it was reported he received millions of dollars from foreign governments, payments which were held in offshore bank accounts. This investigation won't disappear.

But at the end of the day, this comes back to Trump. After so much ink has been spilled on what Trump knew and when he knew it, we won't know until the FBI finishes their investigation. People want the immediate, cheap thrill of a quick burning cigarette, but this will be a slow-burning pipe, with the starts and stops involved that resolve with genuine satisfaction.

Donald Trump may be found to be the most injudicious and obtuse president to have ever sat at the Resolute Desk or the biggest traitor in the history of the United States. It is quite possible he is both.