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Ahead of Senate hearing on Russia, Trump tweets about Obama and leaks

09 May 2017

Yates detailed her own warnings to the Trump White House about Flynn, including meetings with the White House counsel in which she said that discrepancies over Flynn's contacts with the Russian envoy left him vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow. He then switched to uncovered phone records from Flynn, that show calling "Russian Ambassador Kislyak several times".

"I did my job the best way I knew how", Yates told senators during the hearing. He's dismissed FBI and congressional investigations into his campaign's possible ties to the election meddling as a "hoax" driven by Democrats bitter over losing the White House.

Mr Flynn's forced February resignation followed media reports that he had discussed US-imposed sanctions on Russian Federation with Ambassador Kislyak, which was contrary to the public representations of the Trump White House.

Flynn was a Trump campaign advisor before he was made part of the administration.

Yates said she met with the White House Counsel Don McGahn on January 26 to warn McGahn that press accounts of statements from Vice President Mike Pence and other high-level White House officials had made about Michael Flynn were untrue. Yates did not specify what that was.

In her first public remarks since being fired by President Donald Trump on January 30, Yates also stood behind her decision not to defend the White House's executive order barring many Middle Eastern refugees from entering the United States.

The FBI has been probing whether any Trump associates may have coordinated with Russia's efforts to meddle with the presidential election previous year.

She did confirm, cryptically, that she had read intelligence-gathering that mentioned either Trump, or associates, or members of Congress, but she said she couldn't provide details without violating national-security law. He told a Senate congressional subcommittee on Monday that when spy agencies obtain information suggesting that an American might be acting on behalf of a foreign power, the standard practice is to share that information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI and US intelligence agencies are conducting separate investigations.

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Clapper is testifying on Capitol Hill. Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any such meddling.

Throughout the Russian Federation probes, the Trump White House has pointed to testimony earlier this year from Clapper that he had seen no evidence in the January intelligence report of collusion between the President's campaign and Russian Federation. That included who in the intelligence community ordered that Flynn's name be revealed in government reports that featured interceptions from foreign diplomats' communications.

It's a distinction that has come up repeatedly in the past few months after President Donald Trump has tweeted about both issues. He says he has made these requests himself over the years.

Word of that warning came shortly after Trump tried to shift the focus toward alleged leaks of classified information.

The subcommittee meeting Monday is one of multiple congressional probes into the Russian Federation interference, along with House and Senate intelligence panels.

Yates told the committee that in the second meeting McGahn had inquired as to why the Justice Department would be concerned about one administration figure misleading another.

Yates said McGahn took her concerns "seriously" but that he expressed concern that taking action could interfere with the FBI's investigation into Russia's interference in the election.

Remarkably, this is a point on which the current and former administrations mostly agree.

More news: Yates says she warned White House that Flynn could be 'blackmailed'

Yates' questioning by a Senate panel investigating Russian interference in the presidential election was just one portion of a politically charged day that began with combative tweets from Trump and continued with disclosures from Obama administration officials about a private Oval Office conversation between Obama and his successor.

Flynn previously served as the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama until he was reportedly forced out of the post 2014 over internal disagreements over policy and management.

The Associated Press reported last week that one sign taken as a warning by Obama officials about Flynn's contacts with Kislyak was a request by a member of Trump's own transition team made to national security officials in the Obama White House for the classified Central Intelligence Agency profile of Kislyak. The White House says Flynn was sacked for misleading top officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States.

Senators did not inquire as to whom was specifically responsible for authorizing Flynn's security clearance. Current and former officials said that in November, President Barack Obama warned the president-elect not to hire Flynn.

This story from NBC News about embattled former national security adviser Michael Flynn gives another pretty good answer to Sean Spicer's question from last month. Some news outlets have reported that the vulnerability came from Flynn discussing sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, but Yates would not confirm that. "I want to know who did that".

"I voted for your confirmation because I believed that you had a distinguished career, but I have to tell you that I find it enormously disappointing that you somehow vetoed the decision of the Office of Legal Counsel", Cornyn said. James Clapper, director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, testified as well. She said she didn't know.

Flynn had disclosed the December 2015 trip to Moscow to the DIA, but he never told them he was paid by RT, the official said.

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