Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates will take the oath before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee Monday. Yates is going to field questions concerning Russia’s attempts to interfere with the November election. She’s expected to speak about what she knew of conversations between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while working in the Obama administration.
The Trump administration removed Yates four months ago for refusing to defend the administration’s travel ban in court. Her testimony is expected to be highly partisan and political. It’s expected Democrats will praise Yates for her bravery and assistance with the Russian investigation. Republicans are expected to paint Yates as a Democratic operative, interested in continuing Obama-era policies.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein noted last week on CNN that she has found no evidence of collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. But as it relates to Flynn, Feinstein also noted, “Yates apparently has some information as to who knew what when that she is willing to share. And that would be what she knew about Michael Flynn’s connections to Russia and exactly what she knew they were.”
Lawmakers are also expected to question Yates about her conversation in January with White House counsel Donald McGahn about Flynn. Those familiar with that conversation say she went to the White House days after the inauguration and made it clear that statements made by Vice President Pence about Flynn’s discussions with the Russian Ambassador Kislyak were “wrong,” and warned them that contradictions could expose Flynn to potential manipulation by the Russians.
Yates’s testimony could also contradict public statements made by Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus, who described the Yates-McGahn meeting as less of a warning and more of a “heads up’’ about an issue involving Flynn.
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice was asked to testify as well, but Rice declined the invitation. It would be a surprise if Congress didn’t issue Rice a subpoena to appear before the subcommittee in the coming days ahead.
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