Trump challenges Sally Yates ahead of Senate testimony
President Trump on Monday launched a prebuttal just hours before former acting Attorney General Sally Yates was set to testify before a Senate committee, including suggesting the ex-Justice Department official leaked classified information.
Yates is expected Monday afternoon to tell a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election that she warned the Trump administration about contacts between Russia and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel,” Trump wrote.
He was likely referring to a disputed Jan. 26 exchange in which Yates told White House Counsel Don McGahn about Flynn’s contacts. The Trump administration described this encounter as Yates giving McGahn a “heads –up.” Yates is likely to testify that she expressed alarm and delivered the information as more of a warning. That meeting quickly made its way into news accounts, fed to reporters by anonymous sources.
Trump fired Flynn in February after Flynn misled Vice President Pence about a conversation he had with a Russian official during the transition period. However, Trump has remained publicly protective of Flynn, the controversial retired lieutenant general who was one of Trump’s top advisers and surrogates during the presidential election.
Trump is reportedly unhappy many White House officials have been willing to cast Flynn to the wolves, according to Axios, citing a source familiar with the president’s thinking. Part of Trump’s expected pushback was to highlight that Flynn’s 2015 trip to Russia was carried out under a security clearance granted by the Obama administration. Trump enacted that strategy Monday morning, too.
“General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration – but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that,” Trump tweeted.
Yates is set to testify Monday alongside James Clapper, who served as director of national intelligence during the Obama administration.
Trump fired Yates, who had been appointed deputy attorney general by former President Barack Obama, in late January after she refused to defend the president’s travel ban executive order in court.