Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates gave her first public interview since her dramatic dismissal from the Department of Justice, telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper “the Russians had real leverage” against former National Security adviser Michael Flynn.
Yates was fired by Trump on Jan. 30, four days after she warned the president that Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and that he’d been interviewed by the FBI.
“This was a serious compromise situation,” Yates told Cooper. She added “the Russians had real leverage” against the president’s top adviser.
“[There was] certainly a criminal statute that was implicated by his conduct,” Yates said.
Trump would only address Flynn’s contacts with the Russians after a Washington Post report publicized Yates’ warning—a full 18 days after the former acting AG informed the White House he was potentially compromised. Yates said she “expected the White House to act” quickly after she informed the president of Flynn’s contacts.
"I don't know how the White House reached the conclusion that there was no legal issue,” Yates said of the president’s delayed response to her warning. “It certainly wasn't from my discussion with them.”
"Whether he is fired or not is a decision by the President of the United States to make, but it doesn't seem like that's a person who should be sitting in the national security adviser position," she said.
Yates also denied Trump’s assertion that she leaked classified information pertaining to Flynn.
"Absolutely not,” Yates said. “I did not and I would not leak classified information.”
Watch the video below, via CNN. The full report airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on “AC360”:
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 16, 2017