Sally Yates hearing: Former Attorney General to testify on Russian meddling in US election

Ms Yates is expected to discuss her warning to the White House about former National Security Adivser Mike Flynn

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The Independent US

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is set to testify in front of a Senate subcommittee as part of an ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Ms Yates is expected to reveal that she warned the Trump administration of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s communications with the Russian ambassador almost a month before he was fired.

Ms Yates went to White House counsel Donald McGahn on 26 January to warn him about Mr Flynn’s communications with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Several sources say these conversations contained explicit discussions of US sanctions against the country. The White House fired Mr Flynn in February for failing to disclose the extent of these communications to Vice President Mike Pence.

The White House has admitted that Ms Yates spoke with their counsel, but has so far tried to minimise her warning as a “heads up.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus both told reporters that the White House started an immediate legal review of Ms Yates’ information, but found nothing of concern.

“The legal department came back and said they didn’t see anything wrong with what was actually said,” Mr Priebus said in February.

It was later revealed that Mr Flynn not only misrepresented his conversations with the Russian ambassador, but also received payment from Russian news outlet RT for a speaking engagement in 2015. He also received $500,000 from the Turkish government last year for advising them in a dispute with the United States.

The House Oversight Committee is reviewing evidence that the Pentagon warned Mr Flynn warned against taking foreign government payments after her left his role as director of the Defence Intelligence Agency in 2014.

Mr Trump before the hearing attempted to cast blame for Mr Flynn on the Obama administration, tweeting that “General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration.”

Former President Barack Obama nominated Mr Flynn to director of the DIA in 2012. Mr Flynn joined the Trump campaign last February. Mr Spicer could not confirm whether the campaign had conducted their own security review before bringing the retired lieutenant onboard.

Mr Trump also took aim at Ms Yates on Monday, suggesting that members of the subcommittee ask her how information on Mr Flynn reached the press shortly after her she spoke with the White House counsel. The White House may be attempting to brand Ms Yates as a Democratic operative in advance of the hearing, officials claimed to Axios.

Ms Yates, who was fired as acting attorney general this year for refusing to enforce Donald Trump’s travel ban, was scheduled to testify in front of the House Intelligence Committee in March. Her appearance was cancelled amid questions about executive privilege and the fitness of Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes to serve on the committee.

The former attorney general will now testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, chaired by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is also expected to testify.