White House Knew Flynn Lied, Ex-Official Testifies

In Governing and the Cabinet, RUSSIA -- articles only On
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At the heart of Monday’s testimony were Mr. Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak. Mr. Flynn denied that they had discussed American sanctions, an assertion echoed by Vice President Mike Pence and the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer. But senior F.B.I. and Justice Department officials knew otherwise. Mr. Kislyak, like many foreign diplomats, was under routine surveillance, and his conversations with Mr. Flynn were recorded, officials have said. Investigators knew that Mr. Flynn had, in fact, discussed sanctions.

Much of what Ms. Yates said was previously known, but her testimony offered a dramatic firsthand account of a quickly unfolding scandal at the highest level of government.

On Jan. 26, Ms. Yates said, she called the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, regarding “a very sensitive matter” that they could discuss only in person. Later that day, at the White House, she warned Mr. McGahn that White House officials were making statements “that we knew not to be the truth.” Ms. Yates said she explained to Mr. McGahn how she knew Mr. Flynn’s statements were untrue, though she did not go into details Monday, citing concerns about sensitive information.

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Talk of Flynn, Leaks, Secrets and, Yes, Emails at Senate Hearing on Russia

WASHINGTON — When did the White House know — and exactly who knew — about conversations that Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, had with the Russian ambassador? That was the focus on Monday at a Senate hearing where Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general, testified about Russia’s interference in the presidential election.

James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, also testified, giving senators a chance to go well beyond the Flynn affair and ask about leaks of classified information to the news media; the F.B.I.’s investigation into the Russian interference and possible collusion by Trump associates; and — this being a hearing in the Republican-controlled Congress — Hillary Clinton’s emails.

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How the White House Explains Waiting 18 Days to Fire Michael Flynn

WASHINGTON — The question has lingered for weeks: Once President Trump knew that Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser, had lied to his colleagues and was vulnerable to blackmail by Russians, why didn’t he fire him immediately?

Monday’s dramatic testimony by Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general at the time, only added to the mystery.

Like an episode from “House of Cards,” she described rushing on Jan. 26 to warn the new White House counsel that Mr. Flynn could be compromised because Moscow knew he was lying, publicly and privately, about his contacts with Russian officials.

Mr. Trump waited 18 days, until Feb. 13, to fire Mr. Flynn — after The Washington Post reported the warnings the White House had received.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, refused to “re-litigate” the delay during his daily briefing on Monday. But here are the various explanations he and other administration officials have given in the past.

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White House Says It Ignored Yates’s Warnings Because She Was a Partisan

WASHINGTON — White House officials on Tuesday defended President Trump’s delay in firing his first national security adviser by accusing the veteran prosecutor who warned them about his misdeeds of being a partisan who opposed the president’s agenda.

Sally Q. Yates, whom Mr. Trump chose to serve as acting attorney general at the beginning of his administration, testified to a Senate subcommittee on Monday that she had warned the White House in January that Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, had lied about his contacts with Russian officials and was vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government.

Mr. Trump waited 18 days after that warning to fire Mr. Flynn, and did so only after news reports revealed publicly that Mr. Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian officials.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday that top officials, including the president, had dismissed the warnings from Ms. Yates because she was a top Justice Department official in the Obama administration and, Mr. Spicer insisted, a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

“Just because someone comes in and gives you a heads-up about something and says, ‘I want to share some information,’ doesn’t mean that you immediately jump the gun and go take an action,” Mr. Spicer told reporters.

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5 Things We Learned from Sally Yates’s Testimony on What the White House Knew About Michael Flynn

On Monday, we learned much more about the moment that brought down Michael Flynn, the national security adviser whom President Trump fired less than a month into the job for misleading Vice President Pence about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

But we were also left with questions about why the White House waited 18 days after finding out Flynn misled them to fire him.

Former acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. testified about all this Monday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. Here are five new things we learned — and some questions raised:

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