In a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who briefly served as the Acting Attorney General in the early weeks of the Trump administration, said that she was unaware that FBI Director James Comey authorized an interview with former national security adviser Michael Flynn in January 2017. Asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) if she was aware of the interview at the time, Yates said she was kept in the dark and had not given her authorization for it to take place.
“I was upset that Director Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally,” Yates said.
“Did Comey go rogue?” Graham asked.
“You could use that term, yes,” Yates replied.
Yates also expressed irritation with Comey for not telling her that the FBI was investigating Flynn’s conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak – conversations that later led the FBI to charge Flynn with lying to the Bureau. Yates said she only learned about Flynn’s communications with the Russian diplomat in a later meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office.
That meeting also drew scrutiny from Graham and the committee. They asked Yates why the president was aware of Flynn’s interactions with the Russian ambassador before the Department of Justice was let into the loop. Was Obama getting personally involved in the FBI’s investigation into Flynn for political purposes?
Yates denied this, explaining that Obama was only curious as to why the Russians changed their minds so quickly about retaliating against the U.S. for the shuttered embassies. Yates said Obama’s inquiries led the DOJ to find out about Flynn’s calls with Kislyak. She denied that Obama was involved at all in the criminal investigation into Flynn’s actions.
Talking about the Oval Office meeting in which Flynn’s calls were discussed, Yates said that the only topic of concern was how much information the Obama administration should share with the incoming Trump team.
“The purpose of this 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,” Yates said.
She said any mention of influencing an investigation “would have set off alarms for me.”
Well, we don’t believe that Yates is being completely up front about what she knew, about what Obama and Biden knew, or about what the administration was trying to do to Michael Flynn. We’re sure it would be very convenient for all involved parties to just throw all of this on Comey, but we’re not convinced. Not by a long shot.