Schiff: Yates would have testified on Flynn at cancelled hearing

Schiff: Yates would have testified on Flynn at cancelled hearing

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates would have testified at a now-cancelled House Intelligence Committee hearing about President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn attempting to "cover up" his contacts with the Russian ambassador, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffDebate builds over making Mueller report public Media reliability questioned over report Trump directed lies to Congress Giuliani defends Trump going after Cohen's father-in-law MORE (D-Calif.), the committee's top Democrat, said Tuesday.

Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) abruptly called off the hearing last week, amid a flood of controversy surrounding his claims that members of President Trump's transition team were incidentally surveilled by the intelligence community.

"Today's hearing would also have provided the opportunity for former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testify about the events leading up to former National Security Advisor Flynn's firing, including his attempts to cover up his secret conversations with the Russian Ambassador," Schiff said in a statement.

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“We would urge that the open hearing be rescheduled without further delay, and that Ms. Yates be permitted to testify freely and openly so that the public may understand, among other matters, when the president was informed that his national security advisor had misled the vice president and through him, the country, and why the president waited as long as he did to fire Mr. Flynn,” he added.

Schiff's comments follow a Washington Post report that the White House sought to bar Yates from testifying before the committee on the grounds that her testimony would include information covered by presidential communication privilege.

Flynn, who served as Trump's first national security adviser, was fired last month after it was revealed that he discussed sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the month before Trump took office, then misled Vice President Pence about the nature of the discussions.

Yates, a former deputy attorney general in the Obama administration, served as acting attorney general in the first days of Trump's presidency. During that time she reportedly notified the White House that Flynn may have been vulnerable to Russian blackmail and that there were discrepancies between his personal accounts of the contacts with Kislyak and what intelligence officials knew to be true.

But it wasn't until weeks later, after news reports revealed details of Flynn's discussions, that Trump asked for the former campaign aide to resign.

Yates was fired in January after she announced that the Justice Department would not defend Trump's first travel ban executive order in court.