Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said in a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday that she was upset that Former FBI Chief James Comey arranged a White House interview with former national security adviser Michael Flynn without first consulting her.
“I was upset that Director Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally,” Yates testified.
Asked by Sen. Lindsey Graham if Comey went “rogue” by arranging the Flynn interview, Yates agreed.
“You could use that term, yes,” she said.
Two FBI agents interviewed Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 regarding his contacts weeks earlier with Sergey Kislyak, who served as the Russian ambassador to the U.S.
Flynn would eventually plead guilty to making false statements during the interview, though the Justice Department has since moved to drop charges against the retired general.
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Documents released in the Flynn case show that Comey and other FBI officials, including then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, strategized on how to approach the interview with Flynn.
Comey has said the FBI intentionally left the Justice Department out of the loop. McCabe wrote in a memo that he suggested to Flynn in a phone call to set up the interview that he not have lawyers present.
Bill Priestap, who was then the FBI chief of counterintelligence, wrote in a memo before the interview that he wondered if the goal of the interview was to get Flynn to lie, either to get him fired or in legal jeopardy.
The FBI investigated Flynn as part of Crossfire Hurricane, the counterintelligence probe of the Trump campaign. Comey, McCabe and other FBI officials signed off on the decision in mid-August 2016 to use FBI special agent Joe Pientka to observe Flynn for investigative purposes during a national security briefing provided to then-candidate Donald Trump.
Pientka would later take part in the Flynn interview alongside Peter Strzok, who was deputy chief of counterintelligence.
Comey told the House Intelligence Committee on March 2, 2017, that the agents were unsure whether Flynn intentionally lied during the White House interview. Flynn pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to falsely denying that he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Kislyak during a Dec. 29, 2016 phone call.
He retracted his admission of guilt on Jan. 29, saying he regretted pleading guilty.
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