Two officials in former President Barack Obama’s administration will testify on Monday in a Senate investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow.
James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence under Obama, and Sally Yates, who was Deputy Attorney General, will testify to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, the first such public testimony by former officials from the Democratic administration in one of congressional probes on Russia.
Congressional committees began investigating after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered hacking of Democratic political groups to discredit the election and sway the voting toward Republican Trump, who won an upset victory in November.
Moscow has denied any such meddling. Trump also has dismissed the allegations, suggesting instead that Obama might have wiretapped his Trump Tower in New York or that China may have been behind the cyber attacks. No evidence has been found to support either allegation.
The public hearing will be the first featuring testimony by Obama administration officials who have left government. Trump fired Yates from the Department of Justice in January, and Clapper retired on Jan. 20, when Trump was inaugurated.
Senator Lindsey Graham, the subcommittee’s chairman who called the hearing is a Russia hawk and sometime critic of Trump who has been one of the leading Republican voices calling for a thorough investigation of Russia and the election.
Yates is expected to tell the senators that on Jan. 26, when she was acting Attorney General, she had warned White House Counsel Don McGahn that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had not told the truth about conversations he had with Sergei Kislyak, Moscow’s Ambassador to Washington, about U.S. economic sanctions on Russia.
Flynn resigned after less than a month in office.
The congressional hearings have been shadowed by allegations, mostly from Democrats, that lawmakers are too partisan to investigate effectively.
In the lead-up to Monday’s hearing, Susan Rice, who was Obama’s national security adviser, declined an invitation to testify because it had come only from the Republican Grahamand not Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the subcommittee’s ranking Democrat.
Her refusal was first reported by CNN.
Rice’s name was linked to the Russia investigation when Trump suggested she might have broken the law by asking intelligence analysts to reveal the name of a Trump associate mentioned in an intelligence report.
She denied doing anything inappropriate, and there is no evidence to substantiate Trump’s allegation.
Trump tweeted on Thursday that it was “Not good!” that Rice had not agreed to testify.
The probe being led by Graham and Whitehouse is one of three main congressional investigations of Russia and the 2016 U.S. election. The FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are conducting separate investigations.
Clapper, Yates and another official who served under Obama, former CIA Director John Brennan, had been scheduled to testify to the House of Representatives intelligence committee in March, but that hearing was canceled by the panel’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes.
Nunes, a Trump ally, has since recused himself from the Russia investigation amid concerns that he was too close to the White House to lead a credible probe.
Yates, Clapper and Brennan are now due to appear at a public hearing of the House committee that has not been scheduled.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by John Walcott and Grant McCool)
WATCH: Trump blurts out a massive lie about Dem congresswomen — after being asked about Melania
President Donald Trump on Friday falsely accused Democratic congresswomen of using the phrase "evil Jews."
Trump ignited a firestorm over the weekend after saying that the congresswomen of color should "go back" to their countries of origin. At a rally on Wednesday, his supporters chanted "send her back" after Trump attacked one of them, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).
But on Friday, Trump insisted the congresswomen were the real racists.
"You know what is racist to me? When somebody goes out and says the horrible things about our country, the people of our country, that are anti-Semitic, that hate everybody, that speak with scorn and hate -- that to me is really a very dangerous thing," Trump said.
Iran says it has seized British oil tanker
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had captured a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf after Britain seized an Iranian vessel earlier this month, further raising tensions along a vital international oil shipping route.
Britain said it was urgently seeking information about the Stena Impero after the tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia, suddenly changed course after passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.
The Revolutionary Guards said they seized the tanker at the request of Iranian maritime authorities for "not following international maritime regulations," state television reported.
Former FBI Director James Comey outlines the burning questions he’d ask Robert Mueller
Former FBI Director James Comey has written a lengthy post at the Lawfare blog outlining the most important questions that Democrats need to ask of former special counsel Robert Mueller.
Although many of the questions outlined by Comey are simply asking Mueller to rehash the findings of his final report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he does ask some questions designed to get Mueller to offer up his own analysis of President Donald Trump's actions, such as, "Did you find substantial evidence that the president had committed obstruction of justice crimes?" and "Did you reach a judgment as to whether the president had committed obstruction of justice crimes?"