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Former acting US Attorney General Sally Yates testified yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the 2016 FBI investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Yates defended the FBI’s observation of Trump’s former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn. That investigation was necessary to see if Flynn's interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak endangered national security, she said. By promising to end US sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama administration after Russia invaded Ukraine and then attacked the 2016 election, "General Flynn had essentially neutered the US government's message of deterrence," Yates said.
In the hearing, Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued that the FBI interview conducted in January 2017, after Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak had come to light, were simply an attempt to reopen a closed case to hurt Trump. Yates reminded him that the FBI had decided to close the Flynn case before the Kislyak conversations, and those chats changed the landscape. "They were absolutely material to a legitimate investigation…. Interviewing General Flynn was right at the core of the FBI's investigation at this point to try to discern what are the ties between the Trump administration and the Russians."
Yates called the attempt of the Justice Department, now overseen by Attorney General William Barr, attempt to dismiss the Flynn case after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI “highly irregular.”
As so many of recent Republican investigators have, though, Graham seemed less concerned with learning what happened than with establishing his own narrative. He interrupted Yates so many times both another Senator and the witness herself called him out on it.