Judicial Watch is suing the Justice Department for copies of former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates’ emails from her brief tenure.
The conservative watchdog group filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on Friday, Politico reported. It is seeking Yates’ emails from between Jan. 20 and Jan. 31, the day after President Trump fired her for refusing to comply with his travel ban executive order.
Yates, who was appointed to office by President Obama in 2015, will testify later Monday about a separate matter involving Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Yates is expected to tell a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that she warned White House counsel Donald McGahn that Flynn had given misleading answers about phone calls he had in December with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey Kislyak. She reportedly told McGahn that Flynn’s false version of events made him open to blackmail from the Russians.
The White House has claimed that rather than giving a full-throated warning about Flynn, Yates’ merely raised the issue to the administration’s attention.
Early Monday, President Trump fired off tweets asserting that Yates may have illegally leaked classified information about Flynn’s calls with Kislyak. (RELATED: Trump Implies Sally Yates Leaked Classified Information)
President Trump fired Flynn on Feb. 13. The official reason given by the White House was Flynn’s misleading statements to Vice President Mike Pence, though White House press secretary Sean Spicer also referred to a “serious number” of other issues.
There has already been an indication that Yates’ email records will contain little information about Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Obama administration.
The Daily Caller filed a Freedom of Information Act request in February for all emails Yates sent or received regarding Flynn between last November and the date of her ouster.
A DOJ official who reviewed the responsive records with TheDC in March said that Yates’ inbox contained dozens of emails referring to Flynn, but all but one was a daily update of news articles where Flynn was mentioned.
One email sent to Yates on Jan. 27 discussed a separate Flynn controversy, that of his lobbying last year on behalf of the Turkish government.
Yates was sent a spreadsheet of pending high-profile agency issues which laid out the DOJ’s interactions with Flynn regarding the lobbying.
In August, Flynn’s company, Flynn Intel Group, signed a $600,000 contract with a Dutch shell company operated by a Turkish businessman linked to the government. Flynn disclosed the contract to Congress under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, though his firm claimed to have received less than $5,000 in payments. In March, Flynn retroactively registered as a foreign agent of Turkey. (RELATED: Here’s What Prompted Michael Flynn To Register As An Agent Of Turkey)
The Jan. 27 memo to Yates shows that the Justice Department’s National Security Division contacted Flynn about the lobbying on Nov. 30, nearly two weeks after Trump named him national security adviser.
The memo referred to a Nov. 8 op-ed Flynn wrote that was seen as favorable to Turkey.
“In light of that editorial and reports in the media about potential ties between Lt. Gen. Flynn and others who might be acting on behalf of the government of Turkey, on Nov. 30, NSD requested additional information from Lt. Gen. Flynn and his firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc.,” the spreadsheet reads. (RELATED: Flynn Is Lobbying For Obscure Dutch Company With Ties To Turkish Government)
The documents says that Flynn’s lawyers told the Justice Department on Jan. 11 that he likely would be registering as a foreign agent. Sources close to Flynn told TheDC that the White House was informed before and after the inauguration that Flynn would likely be registering as a foreign agent of Turkey.
It is unclear whether Yates was involved in the Flynn-Turkey case.