Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said Wednesday that then-FBI Direct James Comey went “rogue” during the investigation of Michael Flynn.
Yates oversaw day-to-day operations at the Justice Department during the final stretch of the Obama administration and the early days of President Trump’s administration and confirmed she was upset that Comey cut her out of a supervisory role during a Senate hearing titled “Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation.”
“I was upset that Director Comey didn’t coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally,” Yates told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
According to recently released court documents, Yates was astonished to learn about Flynn’s calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak directly from then-President Obama at a Jan, 5, 2017, meeting in the Oval Office that included then-Vice President Joe Biden, rather than from her subordinate Comey.
Comey later sent two FBI agents, including disgraced anti-Trump official Peter Strzok, to interview Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017, four days into the Trump administration, without first requesting Yates’ permission. That interview formed the basis of a false-statements case against Flynn. The Trump Justice Department is seeking to drop the Flynn case, arguing there was no valid basis for the FBI to interview him.
President Trump weighed in on Twitter about the Yates hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “BIG NEWS! The Political Crime of the Century is unfolding. ObamaBiden illegally spied on the Trump Campaign, both before and after the election. Treason!” Trump wrote.
But Yates avoided giving Republicans a confirmation that Obama or Biden influenced the Flynn case.
One day before the Oval Office meeting where Yates first learned of Flynn’s calls from Obama and Biden, the FBI nearly closed its investigation into Flynn on Jan. 4, 2017, after finding no evidence that he was a Russian agent. But Strzok and his mistress, then-FBI attorney Lisa Page, with whom he traded anti-Trump text messages, intervened to keep the case open citing the never-used Logan Act of 1799, which bans ordinary citizens from conducting foreign diplomacy. The law is widely considered unconstitutional.
Flynn’s legal team recently alleged that notes apparently written by Strzok on Jan. 4, 2017, seem to implicate Biden in selecting the Logan Act as a rationale for keeping the investigation active.
“VP: ‘Logan Act’,” notes that were written by Strzok say.
But Yates defended Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, during the hearing.
At the Jan. 5, 2017, meeting in the Oval Office — which occurred one day after the note that Strzok allegedly wrote implicating Biden — neither Biden nor Obama did anything improper, she said.
“During the meeting, the president, the vice president, the national security adviser did not attempt to any way direct or influence any investigation,” Yates said.
Yates became a Democratic superstar when Trump fired her on Jan. 30, 2017, 10 days after taking office over her refusal to defend a travel ban on a group of failed or fragile states, that happen to be predominately Muslim countries. Many Democrats speculated she may have a future in elected office.