White House says it wants Yates to testify

The Trump administration forcefully denied it tried to bar former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying at a House Intelligence Committee hearing on its Russian Federation investigation, after reports suggested it may have tried to do so.

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Kushner, 36, was Trump's main intermediary with foreign governments during the 2016 election campaign and now plays that role in the White House. "Trump Russia story is a hoax, " he tweeted.

But Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a member of the committee, said Tuesday that Nunes should step down "in the interest of our integrity". "It's obviously my intent that Sally Yates would be one of the people [that would testify]", Senator Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told CNN on Tuesday, though there is no invitation yet.

Yates' lawyer said she still meant to testify and would not disclose any classified information.

The House and Senate intelligence committees and the FBI are investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump's associates' ties with the Kremlin. She briefly served a key role in the affair now being examined by the FBI and investigators in Congress, and informed the White House in January that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador and was a blackmail risk.

A spokesman for Nunes denied that the chairman had communicated with the White House about Yates's testimony.

In January, Yates warned White House counsel Donald McGahn that statements White House officials made about Flynn's contact with the ambassador were incorrect, and could therefore expose the national security adviser to future blackmail by the Russians.

In a separate letter to O'Neil dated the same day, Associate Deputy Attorney General Scott Schools wrote that Yates' testimony is "likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege".

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Schiff was referring to another California congressman - Chairman Devin Nunes - who revealed Monday that he had met with an intelligence official on the White House grounds a day before announcing that there was evidence he had seen to indicate the Trump campaign and transition were scooped up in incidental surveillance.

He arranged meetings between Trump and leaders from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Trump has used Nunes' revelations to defend his unproven claim that Barack Obama tapped phones at Trump Tower.

"It wouldn't surprise me at all if there was a vigorous pushback on having her testify, among other things, about how long did [Trump] know Flynn had lied before he was willing to do anything about it?" The question in Nunes's case is whether there's now a sufficient appearance of impropriety - irrespective of whether actual impropriety occurred - to compel him to stand aside as chairman of the House Intel Committee in this matter.

The Washington Post first reported on the letters from Yates' attorney. He pointed to a March 24 letter from Yates' attorney, in which the attorney says that if the White House does not respond by a deadline, Yates will consider that to mean that the White House is not trying to invoke executive privilege, which would limit what she could disclose.

Ms. Yates, you will recall, was dismissed from her position as acting Attorney General for refusing to enforce the president*'s unconstitutional Muslim ban.

Democratic members of Nunes' House committee said his ability to lead a bipartisan probe is compromised.

That kerfuffle, along with Nunes' decision to cancel this week's hearings, led Schiff to call for Nunes to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation.

  • Adam Floyd