Politics

President Donald Trump's Former Attorney General is About to Testify Against Him

The Congressional investigation into possible coordination between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia is about to take another twist with the upcoming testimony of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday. And the stakes are high for both sides.

 

 

Yates was fired by President Donald Trump for refusing to enforce his executive order banning immigration from seven majority Muslim countries. But Yates also warned the administration that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had been communicating with the Russian ambassador to the United States, lied about it, and was vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Hours after the Washington Post broke the story of Yates' warning, Flynn resigned. Since then, Flynn has unsuccessfully offered his testimony to Congressional committees, but Yates has mostly been incognito. That will change when she appears before the Crime and Terrorism subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham.

 

 

Yates is expected to specifically detail what she told the White House counsel's office, including whether she warned of more Russian contacts with other officials. She's also expected to give a more general overview of what she knew about the Trump-Russia investigation from her time in the U.S. Department. of Justice.

Republican committee members are likely to spend much more time focusing on leaks and how details regarding private conversations and classified material were obtained by media outlets, particularly the Washington Post's story about Flynn that led to his ouster.

 

 

The central role that Yates played in the firing of one of the highest ranked officials in the Trump administration has made her testimony a hugely anticipated event on both sides of the aisle.

She had already been scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee, but that hearing was abruptly canceled by Committee Chair Devin Nunes. This forced White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to vehemently deny reports that the Trump administration had attempted to block Yates' testimony based on confidentially.

Democrats hope that Yates' testimony will play a key role in realizing legal consequences against the Trump administration for possible collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Her patriotism and courage became a key talking point for liberal Twitter accounts, who managed to get her name as one of the nation's top trends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the White House and Trump have given numerous indications that they won't back down from Yates. A senior administration official told CNN that committee Republicans intend to poke holes in her testimony by "calling into question her objectivity by arguing she is a partisan Democrat and questioning the timeline of events she is expected to present."

Trump weighed in on May 8, pushing the Republican narrative of focusing on the leaks, not the content. In a tweet, Trump urged the committee to "ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council (sic)." He later deleted and reposted the tweet, with the correct spelling of "counsel."

 

 

The tweet led several news outlets to openly wonder if Trump had committed the crime of witness intimidation by accusing her of committing a crime.

It's also likely Yates' testimony will be limited by confidentiality and some of the material being classified, and therefore reveal little new information. But at the very least, she's likely to explicitly contradict the official White House version of events, as Spicer had told reporters in February that Yates had merely given the White House counsel a "heads up" on a possible conflict, and that there wasn't "a legal situation there."

Such a contradiction could be extremely embarrassing for the Trump administration, bringing up even more questions that will need to eventually be answered.