Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, speaking publicly for the first time about concerns she brought to the Trump White House on Russia, told Congress on Monday she warned that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn "essentially could be blackmailed" because he apparently had lied to his bosses about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The statements from Yates shed light on the chain of events that led to Flynn's ouster from government in the first weeks of the Trump administration. Yates, appearing before a Senate panel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, described discussions with Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn in January in which she warned that Flynn apparently had misled the administration about his communications with ambassador Sergey Kislyak, per the AP.
White House officials had insisted that Flynn had not discussed US-imposed sanctions with Kislyak during the presidential transition period, but asked Flynn to resign after news reports indicated he had misled them about the nature of the calls. "We felt like it was critical that we get this information to the White House, in part because the vice president was making (inadvertently) false statements to the public and because we believed that Gen. Flynn was possibly compromised," Yates said. "We knew that was not a good situation, which is why we wanted to let the White House know about it." The Jan. 26 conversation took place two days after the FBI interviewed Flynn about those contacts. McGahn asked Yates how Flynn did in the interview, but Yates said she could not answer. She was fired four days later by the Trump administration. (Outgoing President Obama warned President-elect Trump about Flynn.)