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News guide for Trump-Russia probe focusing on ousted Flynn

10 May 2017

The former USA acting attorney general says she had warned about contacts between President Donald Trump's ex-national security adviser and Russian government officials.

Yates told the panel, which is investigating Russia's alleged interference in the United States presidential election previous year, that former national security adviser had created a "compromise situation" and could have been "blackmailed" because he lied to his bosses about his contacts with Russians.

This is the first time we've heard it directly through Yates in public. Back in February just after Flynn resigned, Trump said he had asked for the resignation because Flynn misled the vice president.

The highly anticipated hearing - it was Yates' first appearance on Capitol Hill since her firing - before a Senate panel investigating Russian interference in the presidential election was expected to fill in basic details in the chain of events that led to Flynn's ouster.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) says he didn't see any "red flags" with former national security adviser Michael Flynn in the past.

Spicer explained that there was an 18-day delay between Yates first meeting with McGahn and Flynn's firing because the White House needed to offer Flynn "an element of due process".

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Yates said she first contacted McGahn on January 26, six days after Trump was sworn in, in a morning phone conversation in which she requested a face-to-face meeting, which was held that day. "Just because I say I can't answer it", she clarified moments later, "You should not draw from that an assumption that means the answer is yes".

Trump has repeatedly branded the issue of Russian interference "fake news" despite the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that President Vladimir Putin himself was behind the meddling.

Yates responded: 'My answer to that question would require me to reveal classified information.

The Associated Press meanwhile reported last week that one sign taken as a warning by Obama administration 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 answer to that question may not come for a long time yet - not at least until the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into Russian interference in last year's election and possible links to the Trump campaign wraps up.

'Biggest story today between Clapper & Yates is on surveillance. So Flynn has a lot of problems, and I think there are going to be several more twists and turns in this, you know, in terms of him appearing before Senate committees and House committees and elsewhere.

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The FBI, as well as the Senate and House intelligence committees, are investigating Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election and any possible ties between Trump's associates and Moscow. Ted Cruz when he asked her about the legality behind her decision to refuse defending President Donald Trump's initial travel ban, Sen.

Press secretary Sean Spicer said, "It's true President Obama made it known he wasn't exactly a fan of Gen. Flynn's", adding that the concerns "shouldn't have come as a surprise, since Flynn was an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's shortcomings on foreign policy". Yates told him that it wasn't just Flynn's fudging about the Russian Federation calls that troubled her and the two senior national security officials who she consulted before taking up the issue with the White House.

Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer said in response that if Obama "was seriously concerned" about Flynn's connections to Russian Federation or other foreign countries, he should have withheld Flynn's security clearance. The AP interviewed a host of former US officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. And lastly, because Trump took as gospel the words of a man who has a history of sitting before Congress and misleading them.

Yates' warning about Flynn capped weeks of concern among top Obama officials, former officials told the AP.

Republicans on the committee pressed Yates and Clapper on whether they leaked confidential information to the press or improperly unmasked the names of Americans.

Trump then stopped tweeting for the night.

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