White House cites rumor, innuendo in criticizing Sally Yates

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The simmering controversy over Russia's alleged meddling in last year's U.S. election returns to the spotlight on Tuesday, with a former top Justice Department official set to testify on links between President Donald Trump's advisors and Moscow.

Yates repeatedly declined to discuss details of the investigation in a public forum.

The other witness at the hearing, James Clapper, former director of National Intelligence, told the committee that the larger issue was the Russians' "influence on activities" in the 2016 election.

Sally Yates is "a political opponent of the president", is how White House spokesman Sean Spicer characterized the former Justice Department career official.

Yates described her account of discussions made with White House counsel where she warned that Flynn had been misleading the administration about his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Yates' account contradicts the White House claim that Flynn was dismissed as soon as the president learned that Flynn had lied to Pence when he said he and Kislyak had not discussed US sanctions on Russian Federation for interfering in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump has repeatedly branded the issue of Russian interference "fake news" despite leaders of the United States intelligence community concluding that President Vladimir Putin himself was behind the meddling.

Trump has said he has no nefarious ties to Russian Federation and isn't aware of any involvement by his aides in Moscow's interference in the election.

"And then, some time after that, the legal department came back and said that they didn't see anything wrong with what was actually said".

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.

Several Democratic senators questioned Trump's delay.

It was that television appearance that led Yates to request an urgent meeting with McGahn, informing him that there were transcripts of the Flynn conversations. "If nothing was done, certainly that would be concerning".

But here are four reasons why the entire Russian Federation story - as it relates to the 2016 election, to former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and to any allegations of collusion - isn't fake news. When Graham pressed if he later found a concern, Clapper said, "Sen".

But here, too, Yates' correctness is borne by the president's actions.

President Donald Trump said he did not immediately fire Michael Flynn as national security adviser after concerns were raised about his potentially being blackmailed by Russian Federation because it "did not sound like an emergency".

"I wouldn't have done that", a former Obama White House counsel told me. She told the committee that she sought to meet with White House officials as "a matter of some urgency" after seeing the intelligence intercepts.

Spicer said that Trump "made the right decision" on Flynn. Recall that Gen. Flynn had formerly worked for Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, a position from which he was sacked in 2014 over his disagreements with Obama on foreign policy.

Congressional committees began investigating after USA intelligence agencies concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered hacking of Democratic political groups to try to sway the election toward Trump.