Sally Yates: Russian 'Leverage' Put Flynn in 'Serious Compromise Situation'

Sally Yates, the former acting Attorney General appointed by President Barack Obama and fired by President Donald Trump, has quite a story to tell. It's truly shocking, Yates told Cooper; the Russians "had real leverage" on Flynn, and it wasn't taken seriously. At issue was what Flynn actually said to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyack.

Yates: I told him it wasn't our call.

In an NBC News interview with Lester Holt last week, Trump said that McGahn didn't make it seem like the Flynn issue was a big deal.

In clips of an interview with Anderson Cooper that will air in full Tuesday night, Yates said she considered Flynn's connections to Russian Federation, and his misleading explanations to Vice President Pence and others, an urgent national security concern.

Questioned whether Flynn's behavior rose to a fireable level, Yates said there was "certainly a criminal statute that was implicated by his conduct". You know, whether he's fired or not is a decision for the president of the United States to make.

The former acting attorney general Sally Yates appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is now investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Yates then refuted a talking point from the White House - that Yates merely gave them a "heads up" about that possible compromising situation.

Cooper: There was urgency to the information? "It certainly wasn't from my discussion with them", she told Cooper.

Michael Flynn was sacked 18 days later.

Throughout the 30-minute interview, Yates spoke about the months of turmoil faced by the Trump administration since she was was sacked for refusing to defend the White House's first attempt at a travel ban targeting residents of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

In the CNN interview she denied she was the source for reports outing Flynn's contact with Kislyak that eventually led to his ouster.

Yates well remembered her earlier confirmation and then reminded the senator, "You specifically asked me at that hearing that if the president asked me to do something that was unlawful or unconstitutional ... would I say no?"

But the NSA routinely bugs the Russian embassy in Washington and Yates, as acting attorney general, knew from intelligence agency transcripts that Flynn was lying.

"Flynn never spoke to the president about trying to end or influence any ongoing government investigations of him", Fox News was told.

"There was nothing casual about this", Yates said.

But senior F.B.I. and Justice Department officials knew otherwise. White House press secretary Sean Spicer had said in a press conference that the White House couldn't conduct a full review of the situation until Feb 2.

"I think that this was a serious compromise situation", said Yates of Flynn's Russian Federation connections. Does that - when you heard that, what did you think?

  • Essie Rivera