In her first television interview since she was fired, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates told CNN “there was nothing casual” about her initial warnings to the Trump administration regarding Michael Flynn.
In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Yates said White House press secretary Sean Spicer did not accurately stress the seriousness of her warnings when she said Flynn, who was national security adviser at the time, could be open to blackmail by Russia.
“I absolutely did not use the term ‘heads up.’ “There was nothing casual about this,” Yates said, referencing Spicer when he used the term “heads up” to describe Yates’ initial warning.
“I called [White House counsel] Don McGahn and told him I had a very sensitive matter that I needed to discuss with him that day and it needed to be in person,” Yates said in a separate interview with NBC. “And Mr. McGahn got it. He knew that this was serious and that it was important.”
In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, President Donald Trump claims McGahn did not make the issue sound like an emergency when he spoke with him after his meeting with Yates.
“When you call the White House counsel and say you have got to meet with them that day about something you can’t talk about on the phone, and you tell them that their national security adviser may be able to be blackmailed by the Russians, and that you’re giving them this information so that they’ll take action, I’m not sure how much more of a siren you have to sound.”
Flynn resigned on Feb. 13, admitting he had given incomplete information to Vice President Mike Pence about phone calls he had Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence,” Trump said.
Trump fired Yates on Jan. 30 because she told the Justice Department to act against the Trump administration’s executive order on immigration.
Yates admits she knew there was a chance she could get fired for her actions but described receiving her termination letter as a “punch in the gut.”
“To have done anything else I felt like would have been an abdication of my responsibility,” Yates said. “So I wasn’t looking to be fired. But given the situation that I was in, I couldn’t have done anything else and lived with myself.”
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