Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates discussed with White House general counsel Donald McGahn whether Michael Flynn broke the law in his contacts with Russia’s ambassador and his statements afterwards, she testified on Monday.
During a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, Yates said that she met with McGahn twice after the FBI interviewed Flynn on Jan. 24.
“Did you discuss criminal prosecution of General Flynn?” Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked Yates.
“It did come up in the second meeting,” Yates said.
“[McGahn] asked about the applicability of certain statutes, certain criminal statutes.”
During Flynn’s interview, which occurred at the White House without a lawyer, he gave inconsistent answers about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, in late December. Flynn talked with Kislyak just after the Obama administration imposed sanctions against the Russian government over its role in meddling in the presidential campaign.
Yates met with McGahn on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27. She was fired by President Trump days later for refusing to comply with his executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Flynn was fired on Feb. 13. The White House claimed he was let go for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Kislyak.
Flynn has not been charged with any crime, though he has reportedly offered to testify to congressional committees in exchange for immunity.
Yates testified that four topics were discussed in her second meeting with McGahn: why Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak would matter to the Justice Department, what the likelihood was the DOJ would prosecute Flynn, whether the White House taking action would interfere in an FBI/DOJ investigation, and whether the White House could review evidence regarding Flynn.
Yates said that Flynn’s inconsistent comments about his conversations with Kislyak were “problematic in and of itself.”
She also said that DOJ was concerned that Flynn had misled both Vice President Mike Pence and the American public.
“Additionally, we weren’t the only ones that knew all of this,” she said.
“This was a problem because not only did we believe the Russians knew this but that they also had proof,” Yates continued.
Yates added that Flynn’s inconsistent statements created a “compromise situation” in which Flynn “could essentially be blackmailed by the Russians.”
“You don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians.”