National Security

Dem: White House in ‘fantasy land’ on Yates testimony

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A Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday he was unconvinced by the White House’s insistence that it wants former acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testify about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“It is very obvious the White House wanted this open meeting canceled,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said on CNN, referencing a Russia hearing canceled by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). “They did not want Ms. Yates to speak.”

“Look, it’s evidence of a coverup,” Quigley asserted. “It’s hard to read their minds, but what it says by its action is, ‘We don’t want that testimony.’ 

“This isn’t Democrats versus Republicans. You can look at it [as] truth versus absolute fantasy land. There is no rational explanation for the cancellation of that meeting.”

{mosads}White House press secretary Sean Spicer earlier Tuesday denied a Washington Post report that the Trump administration blocked Yates from testifying before a panel probing Russian intrusions in the campaign.

“I hope she testifies,” Spicer told reporters. “I look forward to it. … If they choose to move forward, great. We have no problem with her testifying, plain and simple. The report in the Washington Post is 100 percent false.”

The Post reported Tuesday that Nunes canceled a hearing on Russia the same day Yates was set to testify following objections from the administration over her planned appearance.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) reportedly told Yates that her testimony would be severely limited due to executive privilege, which halts the provision of executive branch documents and information in certain cases.

A DOJ official purportedly told Yates’s lawyer that she would need “consent” from the White House in order to discuss her conversations with it.

The government was reportedly told last week that Yates’s testimony would conflict with comments from White House staff. Nunes scrapped the hearing a day after that was communicated, the Post reported.

Spicer said Tuesday the White House was given a March 27 deadline by Yates’s attorney to register any objections to her testimony, who added they would view a nonresponse as permission to go ahead.

“The White House did not respond and took no action that prevented Ms. Yates from testifying,” he said. “That’s the story.”

Yates briefly led the DOJ earlier this year but was fired by President Trump for refusing to defend in court his temporary ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority nations.

Tags Democrats Department of Justice DOJ Donald Trump Mike Quigley national intelligence Politics Republicans Russia Sally Yates Sean Spicer

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