Former acting attorney general Sally Yates will testify Monday, May 8 before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. Yates’ long-awaited testimony is expected to be among the most significant to the Russia investigation; and will likely center on former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia.
Originally scheduled to testify last month, Yates’ appearance before the House Intelligence Committee was abruptly canceled. According to various credible sources, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) canceled the hearing on Russia after the Trump administration voiced objections to him about her planned testimony.
During Yates’ scheduled appearance before Congress, Committee Chair Devin Nunes conducted his own personal investigation from the White House without contacting other members of the House Intelligence Committee. The findings presented to Trump, according to Nunes, backed up President Trump’s wiretapping claim. Nunes held a press conference stating that Trump’s transition officials, were incidentally surveilled. Further tarnishing the investigation, Nunes briefed officials at the White House before speaking with his own committee.
Republican Chairman Nunes recused himself from his panel’s investigation into Russia’s meddling to disrupt the election. The decision from Nunes came shortly before the House Committee on Ethics announced that he was under investigation because of public reports that he “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information.”
House and Senate Democrats were eager to hear Yates testify in an open hearing rather than a closed session. Her testimony would not occur. Multiple sources have stated that when Yates testifies she is expected to reveal that she believed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was “compromised.”
Yates notified the White House that Flynn had not been forthcoming about his statements to Vice President Pence about speaking with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition period. Flynn also denied talking to Kislyak about U.S. sanctions against Russia—as the Obama administration began implementing sanctions.
Flynn was later fired after misleading Vice President Pence. The firing did not come without pushback from Trump. There was a two-week delay between when the president fired Flynn and the time in which Yates notified the White House.
Congressional sources are interested in knowing why the White House was slow to react to Flynn’s action. During the period in question, the FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump campaign officials were in collusion with the Russians was well underway. As national security adviser, Flynn handled very sensitive information.
Flynn has since admitted filing official documents stating that he was a registered foreign agent during the period, which according to the law, is something that he should have revealed much earlier.
Yates was fired from the position as acting attorney general in January, after refusing to defend the Trump Administration’s travel ban in court. In a letter addressing her actions, Sally Yates wrote,
“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer was of the opinion that Sally Yates “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”
Yates’ appearance on Monday will be her first testimony before Congress since being fired by President Trump.