Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified to great praise yesterday, but Sean Spicer was dismissive and unimpressed today during his press briefing at the White House.
The Flynn case re-emerged to dog the administration on Monday, when Yates testified to Congress that she met with White House counsel Donald McGahn on January 26 and told him that Flynn was compromised and open to possible Russian blackmail.
But Yates told the subcommittee that she called White House counsel Don McGahn on January 30 - four days after first warning him and hours before Trump fired her for refusing to enforce his first executive order on immigration - to tell him he could come to the Justice Department to review the details of Flynn's communications with Kislyak.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited baseless office gossip to attempt deflect from the Trump administration's failure to remove Michael Flynn after they were made aware he posed a national security risk. This development comes after former president Barrack Obama [official website] said he had warned Trump not to hire Flynn [NYT report]. Lindsey Graham's intimation after the hearing that he would be interested in digging further into Trump's business ties to Russian Federation, an issue that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said he could not discuss at Monday's hearing "because that impacts an investigation". Was he still fulfilling his normal national security adviser duties?
Spicer also did not reconcile the fact that Yates was right about Flynn with the fact that Trump, eventually, did fire him.
Mr Trump has repeatedly branded the issue of Russian interference "fake news" despite the United States intelligence community's conclusion that President Vladimir Putin himself was behind the meddling.
Spicer's description of the McGahn meetings, and explanation for the delay, diverged at several key points from that of Yates and other former senior Justice Department officials.More news: McCain: Trump Should Pick Lieberman for Federal Bureau of Investigation
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Yates did not directly say whether Flynn had broken any laws, or whether he would or should face any criminal charges as a result.
Meanwhile, the USA administration fiercely denied Trump's contested travel ban deliberately single out Muslims during an appeals court hearing Monday - despite the president's campaign call for a blanket Muslim ban. Trump has denied that his aides were involved in the hacking of Democratic groups, but the investigations could cast a shadow over his White House for years.
When pressed, Spicer said Yates was "widely rumored" to have backed Clinton, although Yates was barred from any public political activity.
Stone, Page, Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort all received similar requests for information, a person familiar with the Senate investigation said.
"President Obama's former Director of National Intelligence and his former acting CIA Director have both said they have seen no evidence of collusion. She had come here, given a heads" up, told us there were materials, and at the same time, we did what we should do.
Spicer described Yates, who was an Obama appointee, as "someone who is not exactly a supporter of the president's agenda".