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Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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If President Donald Trump really recorded his private conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey, he should turn the recordings over “immediately,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) demanded Friday.

“For a President who baselessly accused his predecessor of illegally wiretapping him, that Mr. Trump would suggest that he, himself, may have engaged in such conduct is staggering,” Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, wrote in a blistering statement. “The President should immediately provide any such recordings to Congress or admit, once again, to have made a deliberately misleading—and in this case threatening—statement.”

Trump on Friday sent a tweet saying Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’” of their conversations after multiple outlets published stories about a private dinner at the White House the two shared in January. Comey’s associates said that Trump asked the FBI director to pledge loyalty to him during that meal, while Trump said Comey, who was four years into a 10-year term as head of the FBI, asked him to keep his job.

Schiff’s statement refers to Trump’s baseless early March claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him during the campaign—an assertion that Comey refused to back up.

Schiff went on to criticize Trump’s tweeted threats to stop holding press briefings altogether because, the President said, his staff can’t always be expected to communicate information with “perfect accuracy.”

“It is difficult to know how to respond,” Schiff wrote, “Except to say, being truthful with the American people is a core responsibility of the job.”

“If he did not want to willingly undertake even the minimal requirements of the Presidency, it would have been far better for him to have considered that before he chose to run for the highest office in the land,” he continued.

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Former director of national intelligence James Clapper said Friday that he did not “know if there was collusion or not” between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives working to influence the U.S. presidential election, saying he was not privy to the details of the FBI’s investigation.

Clapper spoke with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell after Trump seized on Senate testimony the former DNI gave earlier this week to dismiss the entire Russia investigation as a “witch hunt” and clear his campaign’s name.

“It is not surprising or abnormal that I would not have known about the investigation,” Clapper explained, saying his practice during his six-and-a-half years in his role was to defer to FBI officials about what information he needed to know about counterintelligence investigations.

“So I don’t know if there was collusion or not,” he continued. “I don’t know if there was evidence of collusion or not, nor should I have in this particular context.”

In a Monday hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked Clapper if he believed it was “still accurate” that the intelligence community had found no evidence of collusion between Trump campaign staffers and Russian officials.

“It is,” Clapper testified.

Asked the same question, former acting attorney general Sally Yates said she could not respond without revealing classified information, noting that Clapper said he’d been “unaware of the FBI counterintelligence investigations.”

Trump seized on Clapper’s testimony later that day, leaving out the context that Clapper hadn’t been privy to the FBI investigation to begin with.

“Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is “no evidence” of collusion w/ Russia and Trump,” he wrote on Twitter.

The President went so far as to temporarily include that tweet in the header of his personal Twitter profile.

In another tweet on Friday morning, Trump again pointed to Clapper’s testimony to call for an end to the Russia investigation.

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President Donald Trump asked James Comey to pledge loyalty to him during a one-on-one dinner days after his January inauguration, multiple sources close to the ousted FBI director told both the New York Times and NBC News.

Comey, who, according to the Times report, reluctantly accepted the dinner invitation at the White House, told the President instead that he’d provide him with “honesty” and declined to answer questions about the bureau’s ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election.

This account, which was backed up by unnamed current and former FBI officials who spoke to NBC News, differs wildly from the account Trump provided in his own conversation Thursday with the network’s star anchor, Lester Holt.

Trump told Holt that Comey requested the dinner and asked the President to keep him in his post as FBI director. He also reiterated, as he wrote in his letter dismissing the FBI Director on Tuesday, that Comey told him three times he was not personally under investigation as part of the Russia probe.

An unnamed former senior FBI official told NBC News that Comey would never have said such a thing to the President, as it is a breach of protocol to comment on ongoing investigations.

“He tried to stay away from it,” the former official told NBC. “He would say, ‘look sir, I really can’t get into it, and you don’t want me to.'”

The White House disagreed with these characterizations of the dinner, telling the Times that those accounts were not accurate.

“The integrity of our law enforcement agencies and their leadership is of the utmost importance to President Trump,” Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the newspaper. “He would never even suggest the expectation of personal loyalty, only loyalty to our country and its great people.”

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President Donald Trump’s thumbs were working overtime Friday morning, as he fired off a string of remarkable tweets threatening to cancel future press briefings and again accusing Democrats of fabricating a story that members of his campaign colluded with Russian operatives to sway the 2016 election.

“Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election,” Trump wrote in the first early morning message.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia intervened in the presidential race to help Trump win, and the FBI and two bipartisan congressional committees are investigating whether any of his aides colluded with Russia to do so.

After accusing the “Fake Media” of “working overtime today,” Trump then pivoted to the 180-degree turn in the White House’s official explanation for his sudden decision to fire FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday. The President suggested it might be a good pretext to cancel all future press briefings.

“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!” Trump wrote.

“Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future “press briefings” and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy??” he continued.

The Trump administration press team, and the President’s initial note about Comey’s firing, pinned the decision on a memorandum written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who criticized Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Trump threw that explanation out the window Thursday during an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, when he said, “I was going to fire him regardless of recommendations.”

“James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Trump wrote in his next Twitter message.

He then referred to the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt,” and capped his seven-post tweetstorm with an unrelated post about China agreeing to allow the U.S. to “sell beef, and other major products” in its market again.

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Some Democratic lawmakers and legal observers suggested Tuesday that President Donald Trump may have abused his office in abruptly firing FBI Director James Comey, who was in the midst of investigating potential collusion between members of Trump’s inner circle and Russian operatives interfering in the U.S. election.

Yet Comey’s dismissal was prompted by a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a career Justice Department attorney with a straight-and-narrow reputation.

Trump wrote to Comey that he concurred “with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” citing letters from both Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Sessions’ letter was just one paragraph long. Rosenstein, who was only confirmed on April 25, put forth a three-page, in-depth memorandum detailing the “substantial damage” he said Comey did to the FBI’s “reputation and credibility” with his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.

This was the bulk of Rosenstein’s case—a surprising one for the Trump administration to make, given the President’s past praise for Comey airing details of the Clinton email server probe in public press conferences on July 5 and Oct. 28.

“The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong,” Rosenstein wrote. “As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them.”

The New York Times and CNN reported that senior officials at the White House and DOJ had been instructed to spend the last week finding a reason to terminate Comey. But Rosenstein’s background as a longtime, deeply respected federal prosecutor offers some cover to the Trump administration. He has worked in high-level posts in the administrations of former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, most recently serving as the U.S. attorney for Maryland.

First nominated in January, Rosenstein was confirmed by the Senate only two weeks ago in a 94-6 vote.

Because Sessions’ close ties to the Trump campaign forced him to recuse himself from the investigation into Russia’s election meddling, Rosenstein will handle all Russia-related (or Trump campaign-related) matters in his role.

He was criticized by Democrats during his confirmation hearings for refusing to commit to appointing a special prosecutor to lead an independent investigation on Russia, saying he first needed to learn “the information that they know.”

A number of Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), said Tuesday that Comey’s firing made an independent probe all the more urgent.

“The American people’s trust in our criminal justice system is in Rosenstein’s hands,” Schumer said in a solemn public statement. “Mr. Rosenstein, America depends on you to restore faith in our criminal justice system, which is going to be badly shattered after the administration’s actions today.”

“This investigation must be run as far away as possible from this White House,” Schumer added.

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In a shocking turn of events, President Donald Trump abruptly terminated FBI Director James Comey late Tuesday afternoon, claiming he’d lost confidence in him. FBI staffers and many members of Congress reportedly had no idea this announcement was coming.

“President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement. A search for Comey’s replacement will begin “immediately,” Spicer said.

Just last week, Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing on Russia’s interference in the election and possible collusion between Trump officials and Russian operatives. He was scheduled to appear before a closed session of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, highlighting just how suddenly Trump’s decision came down.

The FBI is also conducting a parallel probe of Russian election meddling and potential ties between the Trump camp and Russia.

Trump informed Comey in a letter that he had lost faith in his ability to lead the intelligence agency, taking care to emphasize that Comey told him he was not a target of investigation.

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” Trump wrote.

In a memorandum, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein accused Comey of causing “substantial damage” to the FBI’s “reputation and credibility” through his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Rosenstein was only confirmed by the Senate on April 25.

In the memo, he said Comey erred by announcing in a press conference on July 5 that Clinton would not be prosecuted, saying the “FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.”

Comey’s comments about Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of classified information, which Republicans seized on during the 2016 presidential election, were “a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do,” Rosenstein wrote.

Rosenstein also criticized Comey’s explanation for announcing on Oct. 28, 11 days before the election, that the FBI had reopened its investigation after discovering fresh emails potentially related to the probe on a computer belonging to Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband to Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin.

Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he felt at that time that he had a choice to “speak or conceal,” and made the decision he thought best.

Rosenstein contended that not commenting on open investigations “is not concealment.”

The Justice Department’s inspector general announced in early January, prior to Trump’s inauguration, that he was investigating Comey’s public announcements about the Clinton email investigation.

Michael Horowitz said he wanted to determine if “underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations, among other things.”

These concerns did not prompt Trump to dismiss Comey after he took office. Asked by Fox News in April if it was a “mistake” not to ask him to step down at the outset of his presidency, Trump said it was “not too late” to do so.

“I have confidence in him,” Trump replied. “We’ll see what happens. You know, it’s going to be interesting.”

Read the White House statement, letter from Trump, letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and letter from Rosenstein below.

 

This post has been updated.

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The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the Treasury Department for financial information related to President Donald Trump, his senior officials and his campaign staffers, CNN reported Tuesday.

“We’ve made a request, to FinCEN in the Treasury Dept, to make sure, not just for example vis-a-vis the President, but just overall our effort to try to follow the intel no matter where it leads,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told CNN, referring to the Treasury Department’s criminal investigation division. “You get materials that show if there have been, what level of financial ties between, I mean some of the stuff, some of the Trump-related officials, Trump campaign-related officials and other officials and where those dollars flow—not necessarily from Russia.”

Warner is the ranking Democrat on the committee, which is probing Russia’s interference into the 2016 election. He said the request was made in cooperation with committee Chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC).

FinCEN, or the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, investigates financial crimes, including money laundering in the real estate sector.

The White House did not respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Whether Trump’s own finances are under investigation remains an open, glaring question. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper declined to say if he had ever seen “a situation where a Trump business interest in Russia” caused him “concern” during Monday’s Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russia.

Clapper told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that he “can’t comment on that because that impacts the investigation.”

Graham himself told CNN on Tuesday that he was interested in looking into Trump’s business ties with Russia, before walking back those comments.

He later told the network that he was simply interested in “all things Russia,” rather than the Trump Organization’s business dealings specifically.

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The White House reviewed the evidence that led the Justice Department to believe then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was “compromised” with regard to Russia in early February, Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed Tuesday. The administration reviewed that evidence for nearly two weeks before asking for Flynn’s resignation “to make sure that we did the right thing,” he said.

“When you look at this compared to other instances, the idea that in 11 days, a review was conducted, the President acted decisively,” Spicer said. “I think that actually shows the system worked properly.”

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates said Monday that she informed White House Counsel Don McGahn about the DOJ’s concerns about Flynn’s conduct in a meeting on Jan. 26; followed up with him in another meeting on Jan. 27; and told him in a Jan. 30 phone call that, after she consulted with the FBI, Trump administration officials would be allowed to view the same evidence on Flynn that raised alarm bells for the DOJ.

Yates told a Senate Judiciary subcomittee that she didn’t know whether the White House ended up looking at that evidence because she was fired for refusing to enforce President Donald Trump’s initial travel ban shortly after she spoke with McGahn by phone.

“The White House didn’t get access to that underlying evidence described by Miss Yates until Thursday, Feb. 2, which is a week after Miss Yates first met with the White House counsel,” Spicer said. “And then that’s when I think the full sort of review began. Once they had had access to that information.”

Trump was briefed on Jan. 26 about Yates’ conversation with McGahn, and subsequently informed that the DOJ’s evidence would be reviewed, according to the timeline Spicer laid out in Tuesday’s press briefing.

Spicer explained that there was an 18-day delay between Yates first meeting with McGahn and Flynn’s firing because the White House needed to offer Flynn “an element of due process.” He downplayed what Yates framed as an urgent conversation about the need to take action against Flynn, repeatedly referring to her meetings with McGahn as a mere “heads-up.”

Referring to Yates, a 27-year veteran DOJ prosecutor, as “an Obama appointee,” Spicer said, “You have someone who you have to wonder why they are telling you something, to the point where they had to come back a second time because what they were saying was unclear.”

He repeatedly invoked this second meeting between Yates and McGahn, which the former acting attorney general testified was held at the White House counsel’s request, to suggest that Yates did a shoddy job relaying information about Flynn.

“I would suggest that the reason she was asked to come back the second day was because it wasn’t—it clearly wasn’t that clear on the first day,” Spicer said. “So I think logic dictates you don’t ask someone to come back and explain themselves a second time if they have done an effective job the first time. But again, I’m not going to get into needling every little point about what happened.”

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For the first time on Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates provided an on-the-record account of exactly how she informed the White House that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had himself become a national security concern.

Because much of what Yates discussed before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism touched on classified information, and because it did not line up with the Trump administration’s description of the “heads up” they received from her, Yates’ testimony left a series of glaring questions unanswered. Senators from both parties also repeatedly cut Yates off mid-response, leaving the impression that she wasn’t given space to share all that she knew.

We’re still unsure of exactly how and when top-level White House officials were briefed on what Yates told White House Counsel Don McGahn about Flynn; what specific “underlying conduct” led the Justice Department to believe that Flynn was “compromised with respect to the Russians”; or why it took 18 days after Yates first aired DOJ’s concerns to McGahn for Flynn to be forced out of his post.

These are the central questions that may be raised in congressional hearings and White House press briefings in the weeks to come.

What was Flynn’s “underlying conduct” that set off alarm bells at DOJ?

Yates said not only was she alarmed that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., but testified that his “underlying conduct was problematic in and of itself.”

Yates said she could not discuss the nature of that conduct because it was drawn from classified information, but emphasized that Russia both knew and “likely had proof” of Flynn’s actions.

That tidbit bolsters a February Washington Post story that revealed Flynn discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. Flynn initially denied doing so before his spokesman walked that assertion back, saying “he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

A spate of reports on Flynn’s work for foreign governments, and his failure to disclose payments he received for that work, provide insight into other possible causes for concern.

After he left the White House, Flynn registered as a foreign agent with the Justice Department. During his tenure with the Trump campaign and transition, Flynn was paid $530,000 to lobby for a firm run by a Turkish businessman with extensive business ties to Russia, his filings under the Foreign Agent Registration Act showed.

Flynn also failed to disclose tens of thousands of dollars he received in speaking fees from three Russia-linked businesses in the initial financial disclosure firms he provided to the White House.

Robert Deitz, senior counselor to the CIA director during the George W. Bush administration and a former general counsel for the National Security Agency, told TPM those gigs raised huge red flags.

“I would like to know whether the White House gave Flynn the White House version of the SF-78, which is a financial disclosure statement,” Deitz said. “I’d like to know whether he mentioned he was paid half a million dollars by the Turks. I’d like to know if he reported that half a million dollars to the Internal Revenue Service. And I’d like to know whether he was doing advocacy work for the Turkish government such that he was violating the Logan Act.”

The Logan Act is an eighteenth-century federal law prohibiting U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in their private capacity.

Did Flynn lie in his interview with the FBI?

In her testimony, Yates confirmed another Washington Post story reporting that Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI at the White House on Jan. 24, two days before Yates first met with McGahn in his White House office.

It remains unclear whether Flynn denied discussing sanctions with Kislyak in his conversation with bureau agents, as current and U.S. officials who spoke to the newspaper said he did.

“What was not said was the conclusion naturally drawn from the fact he’d been interviewed by the FBI and had presumably told the FBI a story consistent with the story he told the Vice President,” Richard Ben-Veniste, the chief special prosecutor on the Watergate scandal and a member of the 9/11 Commission, told TPM. “That means, assuming that the government has hard evidence of what actually happened in the Kislyak conversations, you have the national security adviser speaking untruthfully in his interview with the FBI. The implications of that are very consequential.”

“Lying to the FBI in a formal interview is itself a potential crime, depending on whether the false statement was both material and knowingly false, under Title 18 United States Code Section 1001,” Ben-Veniste continued. “If the national security adviser violated 18 USC Sec. 1001, this is a felony and must be taken extremely seriously.”

Flynn offered to be interviewed by the FBI and House and Senate Intelligence Committees, all probing Trump campaign staffers’ potential ties to Russian officials, in exchange for immunity, but none of those bodies appear to have accepted his offer.

Did any White House officials review the DOJ’s evidence on Flynn?

Yates disclosed that McGahn had asked her if the White House could look at the “underlying evidence” regarding Flynn’s conduct during their second in-person meeting on Jan. 27. She said that after consulting with the FBI over the weekend, she called McGahn on Jan. 30 to let him know his team would be allowed to review that evidence.

McGahn was unavailable and did not return her call until late that afternoon, Yates testified.

“And that was the end of this episode? Nobody came over to look at the material?” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked.

Yates replied that she didn’t “know what happened after that” because she was fired later that day for instructing the DOJ not to enforce the Trump administration’s initial travel ban.

Why did it take the White House 18 days to give Flynn the boot?

Yates testified that she detailed her concerns about Flynn to McGahn in two separate in-person meetings, urging him to take action. The administration did nothing, and openly defended Flynn amid reports of his conversations about sanctions. Then, on Feb. 13, the Post published a bombshell report detailing Yates’ warnings to the White House about his conduct. Flynn was gone hours later.

In a press briefing on Feb. 14, Spicer said Yates gave the White House a “heads-up” and that McGahn “briefed the President and a small group of his senior advisers” “immediately” after their first conversation.

“The President asked them to commit a review of whether there was a legal situation there,” Spicer continued, saying Trump “instinctively” believed Flynn behaved appropriately. “That was immediately determined there wasn’t.”

This remained the basic line from the White House for months. Anonymous senior administration officials suggested in media reports that Flynn was let go not because he might have been “compromised” by Russia, but because he lied to Pence.

What exactly McGahn communicated to Trump and the White House, and why they did not act on that information at the time, remain open questions.

Where do the investigations into Trump’s campaign staffers stand?

Yates was unable to comment on the status of any probe into Trump’s associates ties to Russia, citing department policy not to comment on ongoing investigations.

She did acknowledge that failure to disclose payments from foreign sources, lying to the FBI under oath and failing to register as a foreign agent are all criminally punishable offenses,

She offered no comment on the FBI’s looking into former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort or onetime campaign adviser and longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone.

Philip Bobbit, a former senior government lawyer who now serves as director for the Center for National Security at Columbia Law School, called the status of the FBI probe the “biggest unanswered question” coming out of Yates’ testimony.

“How wide is the net?” Bobbit said in a phone interview with TPM. “She couldn’t even say the progress of the criminal investigation against Flynn, but what about Stone, what about Manafort, what about Carter Page. Where is that going? Are they going to seek an indictment?”

What are Trump’s own business ties with Russia?

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper suggested in an exchange with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during the same hearing that the intelligence community was investigating the President’s own business ties with Russia. Asked if Clapper had ever come across “a situation where a Trump business interest in Russia” caused him “concern,” Clapper said he “can’t comment on that because that impacts the investigation.”

CNN reported on air Tuesday that Graham now wanted to look into Trump’s Russian business connections.

Trump’s adult sons, Eric and Donald Jr., who now run the Trump Organization, have both suggested that a disproportionate amount of the family real estate company’s assets come from that country.

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The Trump administration has insisted for months that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was ousted in February specifically because he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

That rationale was dealt a forceful blow on Monday, when former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified that Flynn’s “underlying conduct was problematic in and of itself.”

Yates repeatedly circled back to Flynn’s “underlying conduct” in a hearing of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, saying she made it expressly clear to White House Counsel Don McGahn in a phone call and two in-person meetings that it was a matter of concern.

Yates said she couldn’t reveal the nature of that conduct because it was drawn from classified information. But she emphasized that Russia knew about it too, leading the Justice Department under her tenure to believe that Flynn was “compromised with respect to the Russians.”

“Not only did we believe that the Russians knew this but that they likely had proof of this information,” Yates testified. “And that created a compromise situation, a situation where the national security advisor essentially could be blackmailed by the Russians.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is also probing into Russia’s election interference, said on Twitter that Yates’ comments about Flynn’s “conduct” were the “most striking” part of her testimony.

Yates testified that she first met with McGahn on Jan. 26 to provide detailed accounts about Flynn’s actions; how Pence and other senior Trump administration officials were unknowingly making false statements to the public about Flynn’s contacts with Russia; and Flynn’s Jan. 24 interview with the FBI at the White House.

The purpose of the conversation with McGahn, which Yates said she continued in another meeting on Jan. 27 and in a phone call on Jan. 30, was to urge the Trump White House to “take action” regarding Flynn.

That wouldn’t happen until Feb. 13, several days after the Washington Post reported that Flynn lied to Pence about discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Lauding Flynn as a “wonderful man” who was treated “very, very unfairly” by the media, Trump said he accepted Flynn’s resignation.

What exactly Flynn did to ring such alarm bells at the DOJ is unclear. But in the days since he departed the White House, many details have emerged about his work on behalf of foreign governments.

Flynn belatedly registered as a foreign agent on March 7, acknowledging that the work his consulting firm was doing while he served as a top Donald Trump campaign adviser and designated national security adviser to the President-elect “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.”

Flynn Intel Group was paid $530,000 between August and December 2016 by Inovo BV, a Dutch firm run by a Turkish businessman, according to Flynn’s filings under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

While he was privy to classified national security secrets, Flynn was meeting with senior Turkish officials and overseeing research and promotional materials for Inovo.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer dismissed Flynn’s lobbying work as a “personal matter, a business matter,” although it was twice brought to the attention of the administration during the transition. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) warned Pence about Flynn’s work for Inovo in a Nov. 18, 2016 letter, while Flynn’s lawyer reportedly told McGahn about it during the transition.

Politico later reported that Ekim Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who runs Inovo, has extensive business ties to Russia. Alptekin ran his lobbying efforts with Ukraine-born businessman Dmitri Zaikin, and both men have negotiated business deals with Vladimir Putin’s government, according to Politico.

In late March, Flynn offered to be interviewed by the FBI and both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees in exchange for a grant of immunity. None of those parties appear to have accepted his offer.

Last year, Flynn said that receiving immunity “means you probably committed a crime.”

The ousted national security adviser’s legal headaches worsened in early April after financial disclosure firms released by the White House revealed that he failed to inform it and the Office of Government Ethics about speaking fees he received from three Russia-linked firms.

In an amended financial filing submitted after he left the administration, Flynn disclosed that he was paid by an air freight company tied to the Russia-based Volga-Dnepr Group, a subsidiary of the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, and Kremlin-backed propaganda outlet RT.

The Trump administration has brushed off responsibility for adequately vetting Flynn before bringing him onboard, shifting the blame onto the Obama administration for granting Flynn a national security clearance and then not revoking it when concerns arose.

An hour before Yates appeared before the Senate panel and detailed her repeated, forceful warnings about Flynn’s “problematic” conduct, Spicer acknowledged reports that former President Barack Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn two days after the real estate mogul won the election, saying Obama made it clear that “he wasn’t exactly a fan.”

If there was “truly a concern,” Spicer insisted in his daily briefing, the Obama administration should have suspended Flynn’s security clearance long ago.

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