A top Obama administration Justice Department official will testify to Congress for the first time Monday about the most explosive contacts to emerge so far between President Trump’s former top aides and senior Russian officials, the focus of several investigations on Capitol Hill.
Sally Yates, deputy attorney general under President Obama, is expected to disclose details to a Senate Judiciary Committee panel about her warnings to White House officials in January that Trump’s national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other officials about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn was fired 18 days after Yates went to the White House, and only after news stories revealed the existence of a transcript of Flynn’s telephone conversation with Kislyak, which was recorded as part of routine U.S. intelligence monitoring of foreign officials’ communications.
Yates, a former U.S. attorney who became deputy attorney general in 2015, took over the Justice Department as acting attorney general after Trump was inaugurated Jan. 20 while he prepared his own team.
She was fired 10 days later after she announced that under her leadership, the Justice Department would not defend Trump’s executive order seeking to bar travel to the U.S. from select Muslim-majority nations.
Yates’ attorney did not return messages Friday seeking comment about her upcoming testimony. James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence during the Obama administration, is also scheduled to testify at the same hearing.
Lawmakers from both parties are likely to press Yates for details about her warnings to the White House that Flynn’s misrepresentations to Pence, and to the public, about his conversations with Kislyak left him vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.
The FBI director, James B. Comey, recently told a judiciary subcommittee that Yates had spoken to him about her “concerns that Gen. Flynn had been compromised.”