The investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign to influence the 2016 Presidential Election takes a dramatic leap forward on Monday, when former Acting United States Attorney General Sally Yates testifies before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism in what is sure to be a closely-watched appearance that will live stream (see below on this page) from the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington D.C.
The 56-year-old Yates is expected to swear under oath that she warned the then-new Trump administration less than a week after Trump’s inauguration that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had likely lied about his contacts with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and that the administration’s public statements about Flynn and the Russian official did not square with what U.S. intelligence agencies already knew.
The prospective Yates testimony has apparently rattled Trump, who on Sunday posted a message to his Twitter account attempting to deflect public attention to what he claimed — without citing evidence — were Democratic contacts with Russia.
When will the Fake Media ask about the Dems dealings with Russia & why the DNC wouldn’t allow the FBI to check their server or investigate?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2017
The hearing on “Russian Interference in the 2016 United States Election” is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 11:30 a.m. Pacific, on Monday, March 8 in Washington. When the hearing gets underway, a live stream will be available at this link.
Or, watch the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing stream live on this page, in either of the two videos below.
Yates, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and daughter of a longtime appeals court judge in that state, was appointed Deputy Attorney General by President Barack Obama in January of 2015. But with Trump’s inauguration, before Jeff Sessions, his own appointee to the post, had been confirmed by the Senate, Yates become acting Attorney General.
But when Yates refused to order federal agents to enforce Trump’s initial travel ban against visitors to the U.S. from seven predominately Muslim countries, Trump promptly fired her. And according to The Washington Post, when Yates was scheduled to testify in March before the House Intelligence Committee, the Trump administration blocked her from appearing.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied that the administration tried to stand in the way of Yates testimony.
According to sources familiar with Yates’ planned testimony, who spoke to The Wall Street Journal, the former acting attorney general will testify Monday that on January 26, she told White House Counsel Donald McGahn that she had access to transcripts of intercepted phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak — and those transcripts didn’t match the way that Flynn and the administration had publicly characterized the calls.
Yates feared that Flynn’s apparent lies would leave him vulnerable to blackmail or some other type of compromise by the Russians, the Journal reported.
The following video from CBS News offers a more complete preview of the expected testimony from Yates.
The administration has said that the call from Yates to McGahn was simply a routine “heads up,” but other sources have said that Yates was alarmed about the discrepancies between Flynn’s statements and the actual transcripts of the Russia calls, according to an Associated Press account.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will also testify before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Monday. Clapper is listed as the official author of a January report compiling intelligence community findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential Election.
But in a March interview, Clapper was asked if U.S. intelligence had uncovered evidence that Trump or his associates had actively colluded with the Russian election meddling. Clapper answered, “not to my knowledge,” an answer that he will likely be called upon to explain in his testimony Monday.
Representative Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has said that he has seen evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia that is “more than circumstantial.”
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[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]