Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday that former FBI Director James Comey “acted unilaterally” in investigating former White House national security advisor Michael Flynn, per Fox News, and that she and others were upset when told Comey had initiated a probe into Flynn’s potential interactions with Russian officials.
The bombshell came as Senate Republicans undertake a probe into how the FBI came to investigate Flynn and others affiliated with the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and the Trump transition team in connection with a possible Russian plot to subvert the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Although Connecticut’s U.S. Attorney John Durham is already looking into the origins of the so-called “Russian collusion” investigation, Senate Republicans have launched their own investigation, determined to discover whether the Obama administration targeted Trump-aligned officials without evidence of potential wrongdoing.
In her testimony Tuesday, Yates seemed to place the blame on former FBI director Comey, whom she said went “rogue” in investigating Michael Flynn.
“Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that when the FBI interviewed then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn in January 2017, it was done without her authorization, and that she was upset when she found out about it,” Fox News reported.
“I was upset that Director Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally,” Yates said.
“Did Comey go rogue?” Graham asked.
“You could use that term, yes,” Yates agreed.
Yates, Fox News said, learned about Comey’s investigation into Flynn’s discussions with a Russian ambassador in an Oval Office meeting with then-President Barack Obama.
“That meeting, which took place on Jan. 5, 2017, was of great interest to Graham, who wanted to know why Obama knew about Flynn’s conversations before she did. Graham and other Republicans have speculated that Obama wanted Flynn investigated for nefarious purposes,” Fox News noted. “Yates claimed that this was not the case, and explained why Obama was aware of the calls at the time.”
“The purpose of this meeting was for the president to find out whether – based on the calls between Ambassador Kislyak and Gen. Flynn – the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with Gen. Flynn,” Yates told Graham.
The Obama-era FBI has long contended that Flynn improperly engaged with Sergey Kislyak before President Trump took up residence in the White House. Flynn and the Trump administration say that, as a key member of Trump’s transition team, Flynn was simply collaborating with a key foreign policy official whose government would be impacted by the changeover in power.
Flynn, for his part, is embroiled in an appeals process. Although the Department of Justice has demanded perjury charges be dropped against the former national security official after information came to light suggesting that FBI agents hoodwinked Flynn in a White House interview, courts have disagreed as to how to proceed with the case, and Flynn is currently appealing a decision to maintain his charges to a higher court.
Yates will testify much of the day on Wednesday.