Published: Wed, May 10, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

President Obama said to have warned Trump about Michael Flynn

Yates did not say specifically that her concerns about Flynn's behavior was related to these calls, but she appeared to be implying that was the case.

MCEVERS: How's the White House responding to all of this now? During their first in-person meeting, Yates told McGahn, Trump's top legal adviser, about Flynn's interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In response to questions from two Texas Republicans at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing, Yates painted a picture of a White House that kept the Department of Justice out of the loop ahead of the executive order's release.

It was Yates' first meeting with McGahn in his office, which also acts as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).

"President Obama's former director of national intelligence and his former acting CIA director have both said they have seen no evidence of collusion", the official said.

She told McGahn how the DOJ acquired that information and walked through Flynn's conduct "in a fair amount of detail". One was that Vice President Pence was out there publicly repeating things that weren't true.

Flynn's conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak caught the attention of Trump's own transition team.

"This was a problem because not only did we believe that the Russians knew this, but that they likely had proof of this information", Yates said during her testimony on Monday.

"That created a compromised situation, a situation where the national security adviser essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians".

"In this particular instance, particularly where we were talking about a fundamental issue of religious freedom - not the interpretation of some arcane statute, but religious freedom - it was appropriate for us to look at the intent behind the President's actions", Yates said.

When asked by McGahn if Flynn should be fired, Yates answered, "that really wasn't our call".

In an unusual move for a former president - particularly one who just handed the White House to the opposing party - Obama taped a video endorsing Emmanuel Macron, the eventual victor of the French presidential election.

That's an assessment that's looking increasingly detached from U.S. intelligence officials.

"Every time this lie was repeated and the misrepresentations were getting more and more specific, as they were coming out, every time that happened, it increased the compromise and to state the obvious: You don't want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians", Yates said.

Yates also said her decision to notify the White House counsel had been discussed "at great length".

"I learned about this from media reports", Yates said.

Would taking action against Flynn immediately interfere with the FBI's investigation? "It wouldn't really be fair of us to tell you this and then expect you to sit on your hands", Yates had told McGahn. But they asked Mr Flynn to resign after news reports indicated he had lied about the nature of the calls.

Could he see the underlying evidence collected in Flynn's interview?

She didn't hear back from him until that afternoon.

Ms Yates was appointed by the Obama administration and was sacked by Mr Trump on January 30 for refusing to defend his travel ban.

Republican senators grilled Yates on why she refused to enforce the first executive order that imposed a travel ban issued by Trump. The White House says Flynn was sacked for misleading top officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the United States.

Monday's revelation from Obama administration officials came hours before former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified before a Senate panel investigating the Russian election interference. He suggested Obama's views were shaped by Flynn's criticism of his national security policies.

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