Did Trump Just Confirm He Hid Sally Yates’ Warning from Mike Pence?

The WaPo has another big story, this one reporting that the Trump Administration attempted to prevent Sally Yates from testifying about her warnings to the Trump Administration that Mike Flynn had had conversations about sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Scott Schools, another Justice Department official, replied in a letter the following day, saying the conversations with the White House “are likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege. The president owns those privileges. Therefore, to the extent Ms. Yates needs consent to disclose the details of those communications to [the intelligence panel], she needs to consult with the White House. She need not obtain separate consent from the department.’’

Yates’s attorney then sent a letter Friday to McGahn, the White House lawyer, saying that any claim of privilege “has been waived as a result of the multiple public comments of current senior White House officials describing the January 2017 communications. Nevertheless, I am advising the White House of Ms. Yates’ intention to provide information.’’

That same day, Nunes, the panel’s chairman, said he would not go forward with the public hearing that was to feature Yates’s testimony.

In response to the story, Adam Schiff suggested Yates might have testified about why Trump waited before firing Flynn.

[W]e would urge that the open hearing be rescheduled without further delay and that Ms. Yates be permitted to testify freely and openly so that the public may understand, among other matters, when the President was informed that his national security advisor had misled the Vice President and through him, the country, and why the President waited as long as he did to fire Mr. Flynn.

According to the WaPo, Yates informed Don McGahn that Flynn was lying about his calls, making him susceptible to blackmail, on January 26. She was fired on January 31. Flynn tried to lie about the conversation again on February 8. Then, as the WaPo was reporting this story, he altered his story. Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the WaPo reported on Yates’ warning, on February 13, that Trump forced Flynn to resign.

Two days after Yates’ warning, January 28, Trump spent an hour on the phone with Vladimir Putin, with Flynn (and Pence) in attendance.

So one of the things that Trump enabled by stalling on his response to Sally Yates was that phone call.

In any case, the claim that Yates’ conversations with McGahn should be covered by Executive Privilege is a stretch. Just by way of precedent, in 2007, Jim Comey testified about his conversations with White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales while serving as Acting Attorney General.

That is, Yates’ conversation should not be covered by Executive Privilege unless Trump is claiming he was involved in hiding this information from Mike Pence.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

31 replies
  1. PeasantParty says:

    Here is a little more:

     

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/gas-from-israel-and-the-flynn-wiretapping-behind-the-deep-state-infighting-over-the-trump-election/5581984?platform=hootsuite

     

    I am beginning to think that investigations need to go back to the DNC and Hillary team hacking Bernie’s campaign site, and other list pages.  Not only that, but maybe we should look at DWS’s staffers, aides, along with Hillary’s.  Somebody started this and it has gotten far, far away from them.  That episode was not fully investigated either.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      I’m quite certain those investigations started long ago and continue, but not for the same reasons that you may be thinking about.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One cover-up after another. Escalating exposures. No admissions even after being fully outed, then obscuring the facts further with kerfluffle. Mr. Trump’s administration is giving media employees the best chance they’ve had since Watergate to be journalists again.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Spot on. And one of the best starts the wheels rolling. It is funny. I am leaving out a bunch.

      Stephen Colbert Shows How “Far Up” Trump’s White House Nunes Really Is

      http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/stephen-colbert-nunes-trump-chalkboard-white-house-989682

      House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is supposed to be investigating any possible collusion, but Colbert pointed out that he might not be the best person for the job — since he was on Trump’s transition team and advised his campaign. He compared it to telling Luke Skywalker that Darth Vader would be a great new adviser to the Rebel Alliance.

      Meanwhile, Nunes has been spending “a lot of time” trying to validate Trump’s tweets that accused Obama of wiretapping him, although there has yet to be evidence that this occurred.

      “The only person he has briefed on the subject is Donald Trump,” said Colbert. “Oh, that is brilliant detective work. You gather all the evidence you can on the prime suspect, and then you share it with him.”

      “He’s really in Trump’s inner circle,” concluded Colbert, saying that no matter where the investigation leads, Nunes will not come out smelling like roses.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      More step up. It appears to this observer that there was plenty of off-the-record discussion after yesterdays closed hearing.
      (not to imply they really have bought vowels)

      http://thehill.com/homenews/house/326374-gop-lawmaker-calls-for-select-committee-on-russia

      Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) told The Hill on Wednesday that he supports empaneling a bipartisan independent select committee to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election as questions over House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes’s (R-Calif.) handling of the issue continue to mount.

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2017/03/29/politics/senate-intelligence-committee-conference/index.html

      The Senate intelligence committee has asked 20 people to be questioned in its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the panel’s chairman said Wednesday.

      “This one is one of the biggest investigations the Hill has seen in my time here,” Chairman Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said at a news conference with committee vice-chairman Mark Warner. Burr’s been in the Senate since 2005, and served in the House since 1995.

      Burr and Warner say they have 20 witnesses they plan to interview and have scheduled interviews with five of them so far. The committee leaders said that they are happy that President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort have agreed to testify, but they have not yet decided when they will bring them in.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Mr. Trump seems to be using Nunes as a gofer and a walking PR man for his press releases. Nunes is happily going along with it, which makes one wonder why. Funny thing, voters and Central Valley residents think Mr. Nunes is supposed to be working for them.

    • lefty665 says:

      Or just maybe Nunes is on to something and is working for his constituents and the rest of us. Trump may be incidental to the issue of ubiquitous surveillance and selective release.

  4. harpie says:

    Fmr Justice Dept Spokesman Matthew A. Miller [to Andrea Mitchell]: If [Yates] goes up and talks about that, [DoJ says] she will violate privileges, Executive Privilege, maybe attorney client privilege, the letter seems to indicate, and warned her away from doing that.
    *
    And, her attorney then called that bluff basically in a series of letters, first to the Department of Justice. They called him back and said, well, you know what? The privilege claim is actually at the WH.
    *
    And, so, he wrote the WH Counsel’s Office and made clear, we don’t think this claim is valid. Sally Yates is going to show up on Tuesday and testify as she plans. And lo and behold, after he sent that letter, the committee hearing was magically cancelled. […]
    *
    Sally Yates went and warned the White House Counsel that Mike Flynn has not told the truth about his meeting with the Russian Ambassador. He hadn’t told the truth about what they talked about. And in turn, the WH has not told the truth publicly about that. […]
    *
     
    I think when you look at these letters and you look at how the WH has behaved and how the committee’s behaved, it’s clear they were worried she was going to testify and contradict what the WH has said on the record about that meeting.  […]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nunes is inhaling.  He has no “sources and methods” to protect.  He is a congressman and committee chair; he has witnesses who provide information to his committee.  He has confidentiality obligations, but they don’t allow him to keep essential information from his committee, let alone to go public with conclusions based on information he keeps to himself and shares with the president.

      Nunes borrowed the s&m phrase from the intel crowd to give him an excuse for not sharing well with others.  He knows acting like a two-year old is not fulfilling his obligations to Congress, his committee, the voters who put him in office and American citizens.  He doesn’t care, and he still thinks Donaldo has a big stick.

      • lefty665 says:

        Nunes went to the old Executive Office Building for access to secure networks that were not available at the SCIF on Capitol Hill. He by definition does have “sources and methods” to protect. Whether he should share what he learned with the committee is a different question and arguable as is whether he should say anything publicly.

        Your last paragraph is not credible to put it politely.

         

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          You may have not seen my posts on this.
          At this time, we have no evidence that he actually entered the Eisenhower SCIF.
          He may have actually met a leaker on WH lawns. He may have been on WH lawns twice that day. Only your hairdresser (NSA) knows for sure. Now, with the late Obama EO, likely FBI and CIA know how long and when he was on the WH lawns. But if he really entered the SCIF, no one is talking yet. I would not be surprised if that subject did *NOT* come up during yesterdays closed hearing. In fact, I would bet that it did not.

          • lefty665 says:

            SLF Maybe that explains why I’ve lost so much hair:)  Jeez, don’t suppose it was the woman who jumped the fence three times in the last week do you?  She said she had information for Trump.

            Like so much, those of us on the outside have very little access to what is actually happening. There was reporting that Nunes went to the EOB for network access that was not available at the Congressional SCIF. That implies, but does not state, that he went not only to, but into the SCIF. Expect Trump is getting an education that quaint terms like “wire tapping” have very little to do with the sucking up of all communications as it is done today.

            We have had reports that Obama broadened the distribution of and perhaps relaxed the minimization requirements for reporting that included incidental collection. That might be the inspiration for a “Hey bud, are these the ‘droids you’re looking for?” heads up that would require access to reporting not provided on Capitol Hill.

            • SpaceLifeForm says:

              We can be pretty certain that the fence jumper was not HC.

              But there are others jumping something.

              Sharks.

              • lefty665 says:

                Although she is in town, that thought had not occurred to me. The possibility it might have been HC having jumped the fence and hanging upside down by her shoe laces is rather enchanting, and she probably does have a few things she’d like to say to Trump. It is hard to un-see in the mind’s eye,  don’t know whether to thank you or curse you. Obama seems to have had a better idea, find himself a nice little spot in a tropical paradise on the other side of the world to settle down in for awhile. Not bad duty for his SS detail either, sure beats flying up and down the east coast with the Donald on weekends.

                When do you think Fonzie figured out he was becoming a metaphor that would long outlive the TV show?

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Binney trustable. But his ‘methods and sources’ was software based (ThinThread). Today, we are dealing with ‘sources and methods’, wetware based. As in, who can you confuse (the source) via what methods?

        • lefty665 says:

          I’m left with the growing suspicion that Nunes may be, at least in part, giving Trump the information to wittingly resist the deep state borg, should he choose to do so. That is something Obama never did.  It is a steep learning curve with Trump’s starting at FBI guys wearing headphones attached to alligator clips climbing telephone poles.

          • John Casper says:

            “I’m left with the growing suspicion….”

            Could you link back to a comment where you weren’t wholly supportive of Nunes’ motives?

            I missed it.

            Thanks in advance.

            Given your claim, why isn’t Nunes using his authority to help Snowden and other whistleblowers on “the deep state borg?”

  5. wayoutwest says:

    It’s quite entertaining watching the snowflakes jump from one target to the next as the desired results, Get Trump, don’t miraculously appear from their evidence-less dossiers. They are starting to remind me of those other TFH hounds from the Birther and Truther tribes. The resistance is still intact so long as there is someone new to attack. Devin Nunes has tweaked their loser noses which has driven them to distraction but now Mustang Sally is  roaring into town to save the day or at least a few news cycles.

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