Hours of carefully coached testimony produced Ms. Yates’ telling of her fears that Mr. Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his communication with the Russians, leaving the former general open to blackmail: “The underlying conduct that Gen. Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself”.
On Monday, former DNI Clapper did clarify one point that Democrats have consistently misstated: that the report was not the consensus judgment of the 17 US intelligence agencies, but rather was the work of just three of the agencies: Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
She was understood to be referring to telephone calls between Flynn and Russian ambassador to Moscow Sergey Kislyak before Trump took office.
“The vice president was unknowingly making false statements to the American public, and General Flynn was compromised by the Russians”.
Republican strategist Roger Stone has said he communicated with Guccifer 2.0, an unnamed hacker who has taken credit for breaking into the DNC servers.
When asked by McGahn if Flynn should be fired, Yates answered, “that really wasn’t our call”.
“General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration – but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that”, he tweeted Monday morning.
According to a senior Obama administration source, “Flynn’s name kept popping up”. And I think that is a tougher focus for the White House: It goes to what did Trump know about Flynn’s conversations with (Russian Ambassador) Kislyak, what was his conversation back in December?
Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, was one of a handful who grilled Yates about her objections to Trump’s travel ban. He pressed Yates on whether she was aware of any precedent for an attorney general to reject a decision by the Office of Legal Counsel, which had approved the executive order.
As soon as she read the details of Michael Flynn’s interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at the end of January, Yates called White House counsel Don McGahn and said they needed to talk in private, she testified.
Earlier Monday, former officials said Obama had raised general concerns about Flynn with Trump and told the incoming president there were better people for the national security post.
He quipped, “Russia did, without doubt and with little effect, deploy resources and tactics to disrupt America’s presidential election – to undermine Hillary Clinton, and to help Trump’s campaign”.
The warning, first reported by NBC News, came up during a discussion of White House personnel. “And that created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians”. In fact, Clapper noted that he had been unaware of the FBI investigation into the Russian Federation ties with the Trump campaign – driving home the point that he wasn’t privy to every piece of information.
The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI’s broader investigation begun last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russian Federation.
Trump tweeted before Yates testified Monday that he wanted her grilled “under oath” on who leaked the story to the Post. But, the idea that the surveillance story – that the United States government monitors foreign actors and could have swept up a conversation that person had with a Trump campaign official – is a bigger deal than Russian Federation having compromising information about the national security adviser doesn’t pass the smell test for me. The AP interviewed a host of former US officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. Rice, a longtime target of Republicans, declined because her attorney said the invitation came late and without bipartisan consent.
Yates was a holdover from the administration of President Barack Obama.
Trump took to Twitter in March to accuse Obama of having wiretapped him at his NY skyscraper during the campaign. So when the F.B.I. began examining possible connections between Trump associates and Russian Federation this past summer, it appeared to have told nearly no one – not even Mr. Clapper, who was then overseeing the bureau as the director of national intelligence. He did not elaborate.
Yates also said that the more explanation Flynn gave was increasing series of lies that compromised him (and the Trump White House, don’t forget) further.
It was Yates’ first meeting with McGahn in his office, which also acts as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF). “But given a hypothetical scenario, I’d be quite concerned”.