Two former Obama officials are testifying before a Senate subcommittee on Monday about Russian election meddling and Trump associates’ contacts with the Kremlin.
More specifically, they’re expected to discuss who knew what — and when they knew it, and how.
Senators are questioning Sally Yates, former acting U.S. attorney general, and James Clapper, former director of national intelligence. After President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, Yates remained in her role for a short time — just ten days — before Trump fired her for refusing to defend his travel ban.
Their questions are centering largely on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after it was revealed he had contacts with Russia that he had publicly denied. The White House said that Flynn had misled members of the administration, including the vice president, about his contacts with Russia.
The witnesses have been called before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Crime and Terrorism subcommittee, chaired by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, to discuss Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
We’ll be posting updates below as the hearing proceeds.
3:15 p.m. ET: Yates says she told the White House multiple times that Flynn’s conduct was “problematic”
Yates says she spoke with White House counsel twice in person, and once over the phone, about Flynn’s “conduct.”
She wouldn’t detail what the conduct was, saying that was classified, but identified it as “problematic.”
The first meeting was on Jan. 26, when Yates told the White House that they had evidence about Flynn’s conduct that contradicted public statements by Vice President Pence. Yates says she was not accusing Pence of “providing false information,” but wanted to make sure the White House was aware of the disparity — because she believed that the false statements were giving Russia leverage.
Yates also says she informed the White House that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI, but without specifying what happened in that interview.
It was a matter of urgency, Yates said.
“We believed that Gen. Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians,” Yates said. “… To state the obvious, you don’t want your national security adviser compromised by the Russians.”
But she says the Department of Justice, despite feeling this sense of urgency, was also trying not to interfere in an active FBI investigation.