Yates: I warned White House that Flynn could be blackmailed
- Author: Jack Mann May 14, 2017,
May 14, 2017, 2:00
Sally Yates, who worked at the highest levels in the U.S. Department of Justice, has no reason to obfuscate about the sorry saga of Gen. Michael Flynn, who served briefly as President Trump's national security adviser before being fired after questions arose about his connections with the Russians.
Obama delivered his warning on November 10, two days after the election, when Trump visited the White House and met with his predecessor in the Oval Office for what both men described at the time as a cordial conversation.
Apparently, Trump asked one of his staff members to edit the text of this tweet onto his twitter header photo.
Trump ignored Obama's advice and tapped Flynn for the top White House national security role.
Flynn was forced to resign after it was alleged that he discussed the sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama in a phone conversation with Russian Ambassador Kislyak.
Prior to the Senate committee's hearing, questions were raised by Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, as to Barack Obama's handling of Flynn. She appeared before a Senate panel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and told of her discussions with White House counsel Don McGahn. He suggested Obama's views were shaped by Flynn's criticism of his national security policies. Now, according to reports, it turns out Mr Obama spent part of the time warning him to steer clear of Michael Flynn - and the president-elect ignored his advice.
At issue is whether Flynn improperly indicated to Kislyak that the Trump administration would ease or reverse economic sanctions that President Barack Obama had imposed on Moscow in retaliation for Russian interference in the US presidential campaign.
Trump initially hit back by dismissing suggestions that his team colluded with Russian Federation as a "hoax", and calling the congressional investigations into Russia's interference in the U.S. election a taxpayer-funded "charade". By lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his involvement with the Russians, Flynn set himself up to "be blackmailed by the Russians", Yates said.
Yates' much-awaited testimony brought fresh attention to this administration's Russian Federation problem, which the White House has struggled to resolve by trying, among other things, to blame it on Obama, by citing the security clearance the general had had continued to enjoy despite being dismissed as head of United States military's intelligence agency, in 2014. However, even after Flynn was sacked he was granted permission to give a paid speech in Moscow, and his security clearance was subsequently reauthorized by the Obama administration following that Russian Federation visit in late 2015.
Meanwhile, President Trump blasted the hearing, saying there was nothing new.
The statements from Yates, an Obama administration holdover, offered by far the most detailed account of the chain of events that led to Flynn's ouster from government in the first weeks of the Trump administration.
US President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 4, 2017.
"Seems unlikely", Michael McFaul, Obama's ambassador to Russian Federation, tweeted on Tuesday.
But Spicer added that Trump had doubts, believing Flynn had done nothing wrong and ordering a review of the situation.
In all, Yates said, she spoke to the White House counsel three times about the dangers of continuing to give Flynn sensitive secrets and power.