Spicer Calls Sally Yates a ‘Political Opponent’ of Trump
He was warned that then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had misled Vice President Pence about his communication with Russian ambassadors to the U.S.
Spicer said that he was “not aware of any” restrictions placed on Flynn’s duties on the National Security Council between the period that Yates warned the White House and that Flynn was ultimately dismissed. 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.
And it is of a piece with the person-to-person message President Obama delivered Trump about Flynn in the two’s November 10 sit-down – an extraordinary note of caution on a personnel matter for an incumbent President to aim at his successor.
The Justice Department warning-hey, your national security adviser could be compromised by the foreign government that just intervened in the American presidential campaign-appeared to have had no impact on Trump’s actions regarding Flynn.
Making her first public statements about the issue, Yates said she feared Moscow could try to blackmail Flynn because it also knew he had not been truthful about conversations he had with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak about US sanctions on Russian Federation. Flynn stayed on as national security adviser for the administration for 18 days after Yates first brought those concerns to the White House counsel’s office. National security is not a duty with gray areas.
Flynn, a retired general once seen as a potential Trump vice president, has emerged as a central figure in the Russian probes. Trump has denied that his aides were involved in the hacking of Democratic groups, but the investigations could cast a shadow over his White House for years.
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates was due before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, where she spoke about her warnings to the White House about former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian Federation.
The White House is trying to spin their not firing National Security Adviser Michael Flynn after acting Attorney General Sally Yates reported to them that Flynn was compromised by his contacts with Russian Federation.
Earlier in the day Trump shot off a series of pre-emptive Twitter strikes, accusing Obama of enabling Flynn, and assailing Yates for allegedly leaking classified information. He’s also tried to pin Flynn’s troubles on Obama, noting that it was the previous administration that continued to approve Flynn’s security clearance after he was sacked.
Yates said Trump’s travel ban, which targeted several Muslim-majority counties, was “unlawful”, and added, “All arguments have to be based on truth”. He had lied to the Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his conversations with the Russian ambassador, and the Russians knew he had lied.
“Why did a “concerned” Obama Administration reapprove Flynn’s security clearance and why did the Obama Administration allow Flynn to go to Russian Federation for a paid speaking engagement”, Spicer asked.
Meanwhile, President Trump blasted the hearing, saying there was nothing new.
He indicated Trump has not accepted her finding that Flynn may have been compromised, calling it “a little premature”.
In her testimony, Yates said that she had called McGahn the Monday after they met to tell him the material was ready to review.
Spicer said the Trump administration could not immediately accept Yates’ conclusions about Flynn, viewing her as a “political opponent of the president”. The diplomat’s calls were recorded as part of routine USA intelligence monitoring of ranking foreign officials.