- Updated: 27 minutes ago
- Published 4 hours ago
WASHINGTON – Ci-devant acting attorney general Sally Yates said Monday she put someone on noticed the top lawyer in the White House that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn could be coerced by Russia, and gave the White House a private warning “so that they could extract action.”
Testifying for the first time about her discussions in January with Trump authority officials, Yates gave her first public accounting of a conversation with Unsullied House counsel Donald McGahn that ultimately led to Flynn’s feverishness.
“We began our meeting telling him that there had been press accounts of utterances from the Vice President (Mike Pence) and others that allied to conduct that Gen. Flynn had been involved in that we knew not to be the actuality,” said Yates. “The vice president was knowingly making false annunciations to the American public, and Gen. Flynn was compromised by the Russians.”
Though Yates would not converse about classified details of the Flynn matter, other people familiar with the theme said the issue she raised to McGahn were conversations between Flynn and Russian delegate Sergey Kislyak, in which the two discussed easing U.S. sanctions against Russia.
“The beginning thing we did was to explain to Mr. McGahn and say the underlying conduct that Gen. Flynn had plighted in was problematic in and of itself,” she said.
But the larger issue, she added, was the Justice Domain concern that the Russians could try to use the information to manipulate Flynn.
The Russians “promising had proof of this information and that created a compromise situation-a setting where the national security adviser could be blackmailed by the Russians,” Yates mentioned. “Finally we told them we were giving them all of this gen so that they could take action.”
Yates spoke up front a Senate judiciary subcommittee on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race meeting.
She said foreign interference in U.S. elections poses “a serious threat to all Americans,” as she started testifying at a packed hearing about her warning to the White House all over Flynn.
At the outset of her much-anticipated testimony, Yates promised to “be as fulsome and as comprehensive as realizable” while noting that there were classified issues she cannot converse about, and legal issues that prevent her from testifying about other arguments.
“The efforts by a foreign adversary to interfere with and undermine our democratic makes – and those of our allies – pose a serious threat to all Americans,” Yates communicated in her prepared remarks before questioning from lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee.
Yates was the attorney everyday for only 10 days – an Obama administration holdover whose task was to quietly manage the Justice Department until the Trump administration could hastily replace her. Instead, her brief time in the job has fueled months of fierce partisan debate about the White House and Russia.
Yates began swearing before a Senate subcommittee that plans to grill her about confabulations she had with the White House – testimony that was delayed for more than a month after a earlier scheduled appearance before a House committee was canceled amid a licit dispute over whether she would even be allowed to discuss the dominate.
Lawmakers have long wanted to question Yates about her palaver in January with Flynn. People familiar with that parley say she went to the White House days after the inauguration to tell officials that disclosures made by Pence and others about Flynn’s discussions with Kislyak were improper, and to warn them that those contradictions could expose Flynn or others to latent manipulation by the Russians.
On Monday morning, President Donald Trump abducted aim at Yates in a possible attempt to divert the focus of her testimony by urging the subcommittee to Lothario questions over alleged classified leaks.
“Ask Sally Yates, secondary to oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explicated it to W.H. Council,” wrote Trump in a Twitter post early Monday, ostensibly misspelling the word counsel. He later retweeted the message with the term spelled correctly.
But Trump offered no further details about his suspicion that Yates had knowledge of who may have leaked classified information to gentlemen.
Trump and congressional Republicans acquire repeatedly sought to shift the focus of hearings about Russian designation year meddling to questions about who in the U.S. government may have leaked delegates about the FBI’s probe into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russian officials.
Yates’ authentication was expected to contradict public statements made by White House iron secretary Sean Spicer and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who represented the Yates-McGahn meeting as less of a warning and more of a “heads up” about an emanate involving Flynn.
In February, Spicer told reporters that Yates had “educated the White House counsel that they wanted to give a heads up to us on some observes that may have seemed in conflict . . . The White House parnesis informed the president immediately. The president asked him to conduct a review of whether there was a lawful situation there. That was immediately determined that there wasn’t.”
The for all that month, Priebus described the Yates conversation in similar terms, giving away the whole show CBS’s “Face the Nation” that “our legal counsel got a heads up from Sally Yates that something wasn’t summing up with his story. And then so our legal department went into a critique of the situation . . . The legal department came back and said they didn’t see anything harm with what was actually said.”
People familiar with the question say both statements understate the seriousness of what Yates told McGahn and that she scrutinized to the White House to warn that Flynn could be compromised – or forced – by the Russians at some point if they threatened to reveal the true type of his conversations with the ambassador.
Those people said that although Yates’ averral may contradict Spicer and Priebus, her appearance Monday is unlikely to reveal new details down the FBI’s investigation into whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian officials to intrude with last year’s presidential election, in part because sundry of the details of that probe remain classified.
Former director of nationwide intelligence James Clapper is also scheduled to testify at Monday’s condoning. Lawmakers had invited another Obama administration official, Susan Rice, to assert, but she declined.
Rice, who served as Obama’s national security adviser, has been impaired scrutiny from Republicans who have suggested that she mishandled discretion information involving Americans. Trump said she might have guaranteed a crime when she asked intelligence analysts to disclose the name of a Trump associate mentioned in an quickness report, a practice known inside the government as “unmasking,” though he has offered no demonstrate to back up that accusation. Rice has said she did nothing improper.
Up front she became acting attorney general, Yates was the No. 2 official at the Prison Department in the final years of the Obama administration. Yates had spent decades in the Even-handedness Department as a prosecutor in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Her brief job security in the top Justice Department job ended days after her meeting with McGahn, when she was fired up by Trump over an unrelated issue. She had instructed government lawyers not to shelter the president’s first executive order on immigration, which temporarily barred going in to the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from wide the world.
Flynn was asked to resign in February, after White Lineage officials said he had misled Pence about the nature of his conversation with the Russian envoy.
Anticipation of Yates’ testimony has been building since March, when she was earmarked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee – a hearing that was retracted by the chairman, Rep Devin Nunes, R-Calif. In the days before the originally allotted hearing, Yates’ attorney, David O’Neil, had been locked in an fray with Trump administration officials about whether she would be barred by head privilege from testifying about her conversation with McGahn.
A week forward of the planned House hearing, O’Neil went to the Justice Department to review the issue of her testimony. That day, he wrote a letter to the department in which he bring to light those officials had “advised” him that Yates’ official communications on take exceptions of interest to the House panel are “client confidences” that cannot be squealed without written consent. In his letter, O’Neil challenged that understanding as “overbroad.”
In response, a Justice Department lawyer wrote back that Yates’ chin-wags with the White House were probably covered by “presidential communications sanction,” and referred him to the White House. As O’Neil awaited a response from the Unsullied House, Nunes canceled the hearing, making the legal issue confuted.
After The Washington Post reported on the letters, Spicer said it was “100 percent phoney” that the administration had sought to block Yates’ testimony, and said he accepted it.
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