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

09 May 2017

Yates said in her testimony she had a meeting with White House Counsel Donald McGahn on January 26 to inform him about Vice President Mike Pence's statements based on his conversations with former National Security Adviser Flynn.

Yates said she conveyed her concerns about Flynn to White House Counsel Don McGahn over the course of two in-person meetings at the White House.

But the larger issue, she added, was the Justice Department concern that the Russians could try to use the information to manipulate Flynn. It's not that the lie itself was so bad but rather that it created an opportunity for the Russians to make Pence, and by extension Trump, look like they were lying about national security. Lawmakers demonstrated during Monday's hearing they have a politically motivated interest in either uncovering information about the scandal ― or deflecting attention away from it. In fact, some Republican senators at the hearing were especially keen on asking her about leaks to the press, and about her behaviour over the travel issue. Hours before the testimony, Mr Trump insinuated that Ms Yates may have leaked information on Mr Flynn to the media. "I looked at this, I made a determination that I believed that it was unlawful", she said today.

Trump ignored Obama's advice and tapped Flynn for the top White House national security role.

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WASHINGTON ― Sally Yates' testimony before a Senate subcommittee on Monday was highly anticipated.

When asked by McGahn if Flynn should be fired, Yates answered, "that really wasn't our call".

"You don't want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians", Yates told a Senate panel investigating Russia's election interference.

Before the full scope of Flynn's Russian connections were known, Obama urged Trump during their Oval Office meeting on November 10 not to hire Flynn. "But show me any evidence, what you've got, people who were involved with Russians, and you get the Russians involved in the election without a shred of evidence connecting them". He later retweeted the message with the word spelled correctly.

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The agencies said Russian Federation was behind "fake news" reports that were disseminated on social media.

The fact that congressional hearings are inherently political is a compelling argument in favor of establishing an independent committee to investigate the role Russian Federation played in the election, and whether the Trump campaign colluded.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer, confirmed that was the case: "It's true that the president, President Obama, made it known that he wasn't exactly a fan of General Flynn's, which frankly shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, given that General Flynn had worked for President Obama, was an outspoken critic of President Obama's shortcomings".

He then cited a Department of Justice issuance from the Office of Legal Counsel that approved the order "with respect to form and legality". The White House job required a higher-level clearance, which he never obtained. Above, you can see Senator Ted Cruz trying to point out a statute that seemingly gives Trump the power to implement the ban, but Yates points out that not only is that power mitigated by another statute, but none of it matters if those powers turn out to be unconstitutional. She was then relieved of duty by the Trump administration, but faces no further disciplinary or legal repercussions. Both witnesses are constrained by the classified nature of the information surrounding the events they were privy to.

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"We felt like it was critical that we get this information to the White House, in part because unknowingly the VP was making false statements, to the public, and because we believe General Flynn was compromised", Yates said.