Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Trump insists no evidence of collusion with Russian Federation

Trump insists no evidence of collusion with Russian Federation

WASHINGTON | Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified Monday for the first time she warned White House lawyers at least twice in January that President Donald Trump's national security adviser at the time, Michael Flynn, "could be blackmailed" by Moscow, may have violated criminal statutes and had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his dealings with Russian officials.

Ms Yates, who was sacked on Jan 30 after defying Mr Trump over his contested travel ban, did not say what Mr Flynn discussed with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a number of phone calls last December, which were secretly monitored by U.S. intelligence. But she said she didn't know if the White House took steps to restrict Flynn's access to sensitive or classified information.

On the same day that Yates was testifying before a Senate panel, it was reported that Obama had warned Trump against naming Flynn as national security adviser.

Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer said in response that if Obama "was seriously concerned" about Flynn's connections to Russian Federation or other foreign countries, he should have withheld Flynn's security clearance.

Yates' concern was that Russian Federation created a "compromise situation" where the national security adviser could be blackmailed. That's what President Trump is calling ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Spicer referred to Flynn as a "good man" who President Trump didn't want to smear.

Lindsey Graham's intimation after the hearing that he would be interested in digging further into Trump's business ties to Russian Federation, an issue that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he could not discuss at Monday's hearing "because that impacts an investigation".

In March Clapper told "Meet the Press" that as DNI, he had seen no evidence of collusion between Russian operatives and the Trump campaign team.

Yates briefly led the U.S. Justice Department until Trump fired her on January 30 for declining to defend his travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries. 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. He said Yates was someone who "clearly showed by the fact that career [Justice Department] attorneys told her the president's lawful order - that she should sign the president's lawful order and then chose not to do it" and argued "that vindicates the President's point".

He said Yates was appointed by the Obama administration and that she was "a strong supporter of [Hillary] Clinton". Russian Federation has repeatedly denied any meddling in the election and the Trump administration denies allegations of collusion with Russian Federation. Both confirmed they had, but said they could not go into detail.

The White House didn't care that Flynn was compromised.

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