Head of Trump-Russia probe under fire, won't step down

Paul Ryan
Paul Ryan. Aaron Bernstein Reuters
Author

07 April, 2017

White House officials flatly rejected a Washington Post story on Tuesday that accused the administration of trying block former acting attorney general Sally Yates from testifying before Congress about possible links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government. "You can not have members of the intelligence community listening to the most private and highly classified information and then releasing that to the New York Times".

The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee says White House meddling in Congress' Russia investigations is not helping to lift the cloud of suspicion that hangs over the Trump administration. "Trump Russia story is a hoax, " he tweeted.

Nunes would not name the source of the information, and his office said he did not intend to share it with other members of the committee.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the Trump administration had done nothing to prevent former acting Attorney General Sally Yates appearing before the House Intelligence Committee's ongoing investigation.

According to Spicer's timeline, the House Intelligence Committee invited Yates on March 14 to testify this Tuesday.

Trump suggested late Monday that the House panel should investigate Bill and Hillary Clinton's dealings with Russian Federation.

The canceled hearing would have been the first opportunity for the public to hear Yates' account of her role in the firing of Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

The morning after Nunes' visit, he convened a press conference at the Capitol to tell reporters he had gotten information that partly verified Trump's earlier claim that Obama had, if not "wiretapped him", conducted some kind of surveillance.

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Schiff was referring to another California congressman - Chairman Devin Nunes - who revealed Monday that he had met with an intelligence official on the White House grounds a day before announcing that there was evidence he had seen to indicate the Trump campaign and transition were scooped up in incidental surveillance.

The Washington Post first reported the letters.

Nunes revealed that he'd seen secret documents that suggested Trump and his aides had been swept up in USA surveillance of foreign targets.

Pressed to respond to the multiple investigations into potential collusion between Trump associates and Russian Federation during the campaign, Spicer exploded.

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration who was sacked by President Trump on January 31, reportedly notified the White House ahead of an appearance that was scheduled for an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee this week.

Later that month, Yates was sacked from the Trump administration after informing the Justice Department that she would refuse to comply with the White House's executive order prohibiting travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries and the entry of Syrian refugees.

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". He was hopelessly compromised even before his midnight jaunt to the Rose Garden or wherever on "the White House grounds" he was roaming before babbling into the microphones about how Barack Obama's mad ninja black-ops skillz were bedeviling the new president.

"It's the same thing as always around this place - a lot of politics, people get heated, but I'm not going to involve myself with that, " he said. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) said Nunes is running "sort of an Inspector Clouseau investigation here", and added that "my belief is the House is off track and probably can't get back on track." Sen.


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