Why Is the Justice Department Trying to Silence Sally Yates?

Cheryl Sanders
April 9, 2017

Two leading Republican senators have joined Democrats in questioning the objectivity of the chairman of House of Representatives intelligence committee in its investigation of possible Russian ties to US President Donald Trump's election campaign.

He also admitted visiting the White House before he made this announcement. Trump fired Yates during the first weeks of his administration when she refused to mount a defense of the president's legally doomed travel ban targeting 7 Muslim nations. It's a legal tactic created to elicit a response, but the White House says they did not respond, therefore, they did not block Yates from testifying, they claim.

Spicer tweeted a denial of the story earlier this morning.

The following day, in a letter to O'Neil, the Justice Department responded with another objection: that Yates's communications with the White House are probably covered by "presidential communications privilege", and referred him to the White House.

Of course White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer denies the motivation for the cancellation, but did say that he "looks forward" to future testimony from Yates.

According to the Post, O'Neil then sent a letter to the White House relaying Yates's intent to "provide information" during the hearing. Her testimony, if she's ever able to give it, will likely focus on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his communications with a Russian ambassador, which led to his dismissal (although the timeline of who knew what when remains murky).

"Nothing has been canceled, nothing has been canceled", Nunes said, before saying the hearing was canceled because the panel has more questions for Comey.

The decision comes after a weird series of events that has Nunes, by his own admission, acting as the lead character in his own spy novel, meeting sources on the White House grounds late at night to review secret intelligence reports that said Trump transition members were "incidentally" spied on in an Obama-era dragnet.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a recipient of classified briefings, has said "there is more than circumstantial evidence now" of a relationship between Russian interests and Trump associates.

Spicer went on to explain executive privilege was not invoked by the President to prevent Yates from testifying or to keep any of her knowledge away from the public.

In his remarks Tuesday, Nunes seemed confused as to why he wouldn't continue to run the House's investigation as the committee's chairman. Still, there was no word on when or if the hearing would be rescheduled. Such a statement, however tepid, does no favors for Rep. Nunes and only fans the flames on what's providing to be a heated week for the committee chairman.

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