Yates Throws Comey Under the Bus: He 'Went Rogue' on Flynn Interview
Former acting attorney general says FBI acted without authorization on anti-Trump campaign
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates threw ex-FBI Director James Comey under the bus when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
Yates told the committee that the FBI acted without her authorization when interviewing incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn in January 2017.
During the Senate hearing, Yates was asked whether then-FBI Director Comey “went rogue.”
"You could use that term, yes," she replied.
Yates is testifying as part of the committee's "Oversight of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation."
The investigation is focused on the Obama administration's FBI probe into whether the 2016 Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the election.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is investigating the origins of the investigation into Russia's 2016 election interference and connections to the Trump campaign.
The committee and the probe is being led by chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Graham asked Yates about the circumstances surrounding the interview with Flynn, particularly the actions of then-FBI Director James Comey.
"I was upset that Director Comey didn't coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally," Yates said.
"Did Comey go rogue?" Graham asked.
"You could use that term, yes," Yates agreed.
GRAHAM: "Did Comey go rogue?"— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) August 5, 2020
YATES: "You could use that term; yes." pic.twitter.com/1ThJikUia3
Yates said she also took issue with Comey for not telling her that Flynn's communications with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were being investigated and that she first learned about this from President Barack Obama during an Oval Office meeting.
Yates said she was "irritated" with Comey for not telling her about this earlier.
That meeting, which took place on Jan. 5, 2017, was of great interest to Graham, who wanted to know why Obama knew about Flynn's conversations before she did.
Graham and other Republicans have speculated that Obama wanted Flynn investigated for nefarious purposes.
Yates claimed that this was not the case, and explained why Obama was aware of the calls at the time.
Yates said that after Obama placed sanctions on Russia, the Kremlin vowed to take retaliatory action, only to suddenly change course.
She said Obama wanted to find out why, which led to the Justice Department discovering Flynn's talks with Kislyak.
Those discussions included a conversation about sanctions that Obama had placed on Russia, with Flynn encouraging Russia not to retaliate too harshly because the incoming Trump administration would be different from Obama's.
"The purpose of this meeting was for the president to find out whether – based on the calls between Ambassador Kislyak and Gen. Flynn – the transition team needed to be careful about what it was sharing with Gen. Flynn," Yates said, noting that the meeting was not about influencing an investigation, which "would have set off alarms for me."
Handwritten notes from then-FBI agent Peter Strzok indicated that Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time, may have mentioned the Logan Act at the Jan. 5 meeting.
The Logan Act is a 1799 law that prohibits unauthorized American citizens from communicating with foreign governments or officials "in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States."
It has never been used to successfully prosecute anyone.
When asked if Biden mentioned the Logan Act, Yates said she could not recall.
She did say that Comey spoke about the Logan Act, but that she did not remember if he said this during the Oval Office meeting or in a conversation afterward.
.@LindseyGrahamSC: "About the Jan. 5 meeting, was the VP there?"@SallyQYates: "Yes, he was"— CSPAN (@cspan) August 5, 2020
LG: "Did he mention the Logan Act?"
SY: "I don't remember him saying much of anything."
LG: "Did anybody mention the Logan Act?"
SY: "I have a vague memory of Dr. Comey mentioning the -" pic.twitter.com/sfIkMX5c1p
Speaking further on the Flynn investigation, Yates said she supported the probe.
She also supported Flynn's prosecution for providing false statements to the FBI, stating that Flynn's lies were "absolutely material" to the investigation.
She said that the Justice Department's decision to dismiss Flynn's case was "highly irregular," and that in her nearly 30 years as a federal prosecutor she had "never seen" anything like it.