By: Earnest Wright | 05-08-2017 | News
Photo credit: PBS News Hour

The Bell Tolls: Sally Yates to Testify

Sally Caroline Yates is an American lawyer who served as a United States Attorney and later the United States Deputy Attorney General, having been appointed to both positions by President Barack Obama.

After the inauguration of President Trump and the departure of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Yates served as Acting Attorney General from January 20, 2017, until being dismissed by President Trump on January 30, 2017, following her instruction to the Justice Department not to defend Trump's immigration-related executive order in court.

She previously made waves in the media after warning president Trump’s administration about contacts between one of its key advisers and Russia. Having blown the whistle, she’s now set to speak publicly for the first time about the concerns she raised.

Yates will testify on Monday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The highly anticipated hearing will be Yates's first appearance on Capitol Hill since her firing in January. She is expected to fill in key details in the chain of events that led to the ouster of Michael Flynn.

Flynn’s resignation followed reports that Flynn had discussed U.S. imposed sanctions on Russia with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition period. The move was contrary to the public representations of the White House.

There’s a great likelihood that Yates will testify that she previously warned White House counsel Don McGahn on Jan. 26 of Flynn's contacts. She’ll also expound on the discrepancies between what the White House said happened on the calls and what really happened.

Officials in White House have revealed that Yates merely wanted to give them a heads-up about Flynn's Russian contacts. However, Yates is likely to testify that she expressed alarm to the White House about the incidents.

President Trump has emphasized that he has no relevant ties to Russia and isn't aware of any involvement by his aides in Moscow's interference in the election. Trump has said that FBI and congressional investigations into his campaign's possible ties to the election meddling are a hoax driven by Democrats after their loss in the election.

Trump has also accused Obama officials of illegally leaking classified information about Flynn's contacts with Kislyak.

The former National Intelligence Director James Clapper is also scheduled to testify. This is after he attracted attention for a March television interview in which he said that he had seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia at the time he left the government in January.

Clapper’s statement has been used by Republicans as a justification for the Trump campaign. However, investigations are still underway.

Reports from The Associated Press have also revealed that one sign taken as a warning by Obama administration officials about Flynn's contacts with Kislyak was a request by a member of Trump's own transition team made to national security officials in the Obama White House for the classified CIA profile of Kislyak.

The exposure came after interviews with a host of former U.S. officials, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive national security information.

A former Pentagon and NATO official, Marshall Billingslea, wanted the information for Flynn, his boss. It turns out that Billingslea knew Flynn would be speaking to Kislyak, as indicated by two former Obama administration officials.

Several Obama aides have also described Flynn as being dismissive of the threat Russia posed to the United States as they discussed policy in transition meetings with outgoing national security adviser Susan Rice and other top officials.

Yates had been scheduled to appear in March before the House intelligence committee, but that hearing was canceled. The subcommittee meeting on Monday is one of three congressional probes into the Russia interference.


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