Sally Yates Testifies at Senate Judiciary Hearing

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Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, May 8, 2017, before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism hearing: "Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election." (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified Monday that she told the White House that then-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn could be “blackmailed by the Russians,” because he misled the vice president about his “problematic” conduct.

“We were concerned that the American people had been misled about the underlying conduct and what General Flynn had done,” Yates told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

Yates declined to go into specifics, which she said were classified, but she essentially confirmed news media accounts about what led up to the firing of Flynn in February. Flynn misled officials, NBC News and others have reported, by saying he hadn’t discussed Obama administration sanctions on Russia, when in fact he had. Yates said she expected the White House to act on the information she conveyed. But it was only 18 days later, after the Yates warning leaked, that the White House pushed Flynn out. Yates said she conveyed the information to White House counsel Don McGahn on Jan. 26, two days after Flynn was interviewed by the FBI on Jan. 24. McGahn asked Yates how Flynn did in the interview, she testified, “and I declined to give him an answer to that.”

Yates said she felt it was critical to get the information to the White House “in part because the vice president was unknowingly making false statements to the public,” and also because Flynn was compromised, given that the Russians knew he was misleading other officials. Yates said McGahn asked her, “Why does it matter to the DOJ if one White House official lies to another official?” She explained that the American public was being misled, and that the Russians knew that. “To state the obvious, you don’t want your national security adviser compromised by the Russians,” Yates said she replied.

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