The Department of Justice voiced concerns about President Trump’s national security adviser and his talks with Russia’s ambassador late last month, according to a new report.
Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates feared that Michael Flynn was possibly vulnerable to Russian blackmail attempts, the Washington Post said Monday.
The Post said Yates and a senior career national security official delivered a message to White House counsel Donald McGahn expressing concern about Flynn’s discussions with Russia’s ambassador. It is unclear what McGahn did with their warning.
The communication from Yates was prompted by Flynn telling Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceBiden, Trump tied in potential 2024 match-up: poll Nearly 80 percent of Republicans want to see Trump run in 2024: poll Why is Trump undermining his administration's historic China policies? MORE and others he did not converse about U.S. sanctions against Russia with Sergey Kislyak in December.
The New York Times reported Monday night that Pence has told administration officials he believed Flynn lied to him and was angry that he defended Flynn and embarrassed by the information he withheld from the vice president.
One official told the Post all three officials believed Pence had a right to know Flynn had possibly misled him about his talks with Kislyak.
Current and former officials told the Post they believed Flynn deceived the vice president, adding they could not rule out the possibility he acted with the knowledge of other transition officials.
The Times also noted the FBI has been examining Flynn’s phone calls, while the Army looks into whether he received money from the Russian government during a trip to Moscow in 2015.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan reportedly shared concerns about Flynn, the Post reported.
The pair believed “Flynn had put himself in a compromising position” and agreed with Yates’ decision to warn the White House.
Yates, who was then the deputy attorney general, considered Flynn’s comments during an intercepted phone call with Kislyak last December “highly significant” and “potentially illegal.”
An official familiar with Yates’ thinking told the Post she suspected Flynn may have violated the Logan Act, which prohibits U.S. citizens from interfering in diplomatic disputes with another nation.
Trump fired Yates last month, after she refused to have the DOJ defend his temporary ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations in court.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday said Trump is “evaluating the situation” surrounding Flynn.
Reports emerged last week Flynn and Kislyak discussed sanctions against Russia before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Current and former U.S. officials seemingly contradicted Pence and other administration officials who said Flynn never broached that topic with Kislyak.
Two U.S. officials told the Post on Feb. 9 that Flynn also led Kislyak to believe that the sanctions would be reevaluated once Trump took office.
“Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time,” one official said.
The Obama administration imposed fresh sanctions on Russia in December following revelations it tried helping Trump win the 2016 presidential race.