The White House sought to block former deputy attorney general Sally Yates from testifying before Congress in the House investigation of ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials.
The Justice Department informed Yates last week that the Trump Administration wanted to bar her possible testimony because it considers the topic “likely covered by the presidential communications privilege and possibly the deliberative process privilege,” according to letters obtained by the Washington Post.
Yates was set to testify along with other former intelligence officials before the House Intelligence Committee in a hearing scheduled for Tuesday that was abruptly canceled by chairman Rep. Devin Nunes. Yates, an Obama appointee who served as acting attorney general during the start of Trump’s presidency, was fired by the President in January after ordering Justice Department lawyers not to defend his initial immigration ban.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat of the committee, said that the panel was aware that Yates sought permission to testify from the White House.
“Whether the White House’s desire to avoid a public claim of executive privilege to keep her from providing the full truth on what happened contributed to the decision to cancel todays’ hearing, we do not know” Schiff said in a statement.
Schiff said Yates would have testified about the events leading up to the firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was ousted following reports that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about his contacts with Russia.
A White House statement called the Post‘s report “false.”
“The White House has taken no action to prevent Sally Yates from testifying and the Department of Justice specifically told her that it would not stop her and to suggest otherwise is completely irresponsible,” the White House said.