Yates also warned in her opening testimony that there were some issues she could not address publicly because they involved classified information. He opened the hearing with an implicit rebuke of President Donald Trump and his alternative explanations for the interference in the election. "We were giving them [the White House] this information so that they could take action", Yates said in her testimony.
White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, had insisted that Mr Flynn did not discuss US-imposed sanctions with Mr Kislyak during the presidential transition period. Before he was dismissed; however, several news outlets reported that Yates had informed White House staff of Flynn's false statements - potentially exposing Flynn to blackmail by the Russian government.
"The Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others.And this was a problem because not only did we believe that the Russians knew this, but that they likely had proof of this information".
Asked why her opinion of Trump's January 27 travel ban had differed from the Justice Department's own Office of Legal Counsel, which determined that the order was lawful, Yates said she considered the "intent" of the ban.
Mr Obama's warning to Mr Trump came before concerns emerged about Mr Flynn's contacts with the Russian ambassador, a former Obama official told NBC News. "And in this particular instance, particularly where we were talking about a fundamental issue of religious freedom.it was appropriate for us to look at the intent behind its actions, and the intent is laid out in his statements", Yates said.
"If Mr Obama was truly concerned about General Flynn", the White House press secretary told reporters, "why didn't he suspend General Flynn's security clearance, which they had just reapproved months earlier?" Trump made no mention of the fact that Flynn had been fired from his high position by the Obama administration in 2014.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked Monsday about Flynn's vetting by the Trump transition team, and he sidestepped the question, countering with his own question about why no steps had been taken by the Obama administration to change the status of Flynn's clearance from April 2016 until the time it was suspended. Later that day, at the White House, she told him there was an alarming discrepancy between how Trump officials, including Pence, were characterizing Flynn's contacts with Kislyak and what intelligence officials knew to be true based on recordings they'd reviewed.
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Still, in the short term, the testimony of Yates likely means another lost day ahead for the White House as it uses up time and political energy brushing off a new round of questions and allegations about ties to Russian Federation.
On January 26, Yates, originally appointed by former Democratic President Barack Obama's administration, told White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn had not been telling the truth about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to Washington. She testified alongside former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Initially, Clapper testified that before he retired from his post on January 20, he knew of no evidence of collusion between the Trump camp and Russian Federation during the 2016 election.
Separately Monday, former Obama officials said he had raised general concerns about Flynn with Trump and had told the incoming president there were better people for the national security post. Now, according to reports, it turns out Mr Obama spent part of the time warning him to steer clear of Michael Flynn - and the president-elect ignored his advice.
Pence said in January that Flynn denied those calls involved sanctions placed on Russian Federation by the Obama administration in response to its election meddling. He testified that he did not know about the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the election and whether there were any links to the Trump campaign until its existence was announced in a congressional hearing by FBI Director James Comey in March.
"Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is "no evidence" of collusion w/ Russian Federation and Trump", Trump said in the first of a series of tweets after the hearing.
Investigators on the House oversight committee raised the possibility last month that Flynn may have broken the law by not disclosing payments from RT-TV, widely considered by United States officials to be a propaganda arm of the Russian government, on his 2016 national security clearance form.
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