Sally Yates, Defending DOJ, Says Michael Flynn Talks Neutered U.S. Russia Policy

Sally Yates, Defending DOJ, Says Michael Flynn Talks Neutered U.S. Russia Policy

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August 5, 202011:48 AM ET

Carrie Johnson 2016 square

CARRIE JOHNSONTwitter

Sally Yates, former deputy attorney general, is sworn in to testify Wednesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.Carolyn Kaster/Pool/AP

Updated at 1:31 p.m. ET

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates defended a sensitive Justice Department investigation into onetime Trump aide Michael Flynn on Wednesday, telling lawmakers Flynn was essentially “neutering” American sanctions and undercutting the Obama administration by “making nice” with a foreign adversary after Russia’s unprecedented attack on the 2016 election.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Yates said Flynn’s lies to the FBI were “absolutely material to a legitimate investigation” — contradicting the rationale the Justice Department has now offered in seeking to dismiss the case.

Yates, who was a prosecutor for nearly 30 years, said the effort to drop a prosecution against a defendant who twice pleaded guilty was “highly irregular.”

POLITICS

Sally Yates, DOJ Boss At Close Of Obama Era, Due In Senate Hearing Wednesday

“If Gen. Flynn didn’t think he was doing anything problematic, then he wouldn’t have needed to do anything to cover it,” Yates said of Flynn’s false statements about his conversations with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late 2016.

Flynn told Vice President Pence and then FBI investigators he hadn’t asked Kislyak to press his government not to escalate its retaliation against punitive steps the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama was taking. Actually, documents later proved, Flynn had.

Republicans fault Obama era

Wednesday’s hearing is the second in a series chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who is digging into actions by the Obama administration in its waning months.

Graham pointed to findings by the independent Justice Departmen

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