Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that she was upset when she found out the FBI had interviewed then-incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn on Jan. 5, 2017, without her authorization.
Yates told the committee she was “irritated” that then-FBI director James Comey hadn’t told her the FBI was investigating Flynn’s communications with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and she had learned about it only from President Barack Obama during an Oval Office meeting, Fox News reported.
Donald Trump took over as president on Jan. 20, 2017, after winning the November 2016 election.
Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday asked Yates about the interview and Comey’s actions.
“I was upset that Director Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally,” Yates said.
The South Carolina Republican then asked if Comey went “rogue.”
“You could use that term, yes,” Yates responded.
Yates appeared before the Senate panel to answer questions about the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, the code name for the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 presidential election, the Washington Times reported.
“We’ve all heard it said so often by now that Russia interfered in our 2016 presidential election that repeating it once more does not shock us in the way it should,” Yates said in her prepared testimony.
“But what Russia did here is shocking. Its actions constituted the gravest type of national security threat. It was essential that our intelligence agencies get to the bottom of what was happening, both to try to stop it and then, afterwards, to find out how it happened so that we could make sure it didn’t happen in the future.”
Graham and Senate Republicans were interested in hearing about the Jan. 5 meeting in President Obama’s Oval Office, and why Obama knew about the investigation into Flynn before Yates did.
Trump last year was exonerated by the Justice Department on the Russian collusion allegations. Trump has said Obama and his administration were behind the investigation in order to undermine his presidency.
However, Yates said that neither Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden attempted to influence the FBI’s probe of Flynn, Politico reported.
“During the meeting, the president, the vice president, the national security advisor did not attempt to any way direct or influence any investigation,” Yates said.
“The purpose of the meeting was for the president to find out whether — based on the calls between Ambassador Kislyak and Gen. Flynn — the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with Gen. Flynn,” she said, according to Fox News.
Yates also said she couldn’t recall if Biden mentioned the Logan Act during the meeting, which has been alleged in handwritten notes from then-FBI agent Peter Strzok.
The 1799 Logan Act makes it a crime for private citizens to conduct unauthorized negotiations with foreign governments.
Yates further said she supported the investigation into Flynn and that the Justice Department’s decision to dismiss his case was “highly irregular.”
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