Mike Flynn's name was unmasked in intelligence reports covering his calls to the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak -- and Sally Yates said there are two possible explanations.
Yates, the former acting attorney general, told The New Yorker those reports included classified information about underlying evidence against Flynn, then the national security adviser to President Donald Trump.
"I oftentimes would get intel reports that included the name of the U.S. person," Yates said. "Not because I or anybody else had asked for it to be unmasked, but because that intelligence only made sense if you knew who the identity of the U.S. person was, and that’s an exception to the minimization requirements."
She declined to reveal the evidence, because it's classified, but she said an American's name might also be unmasked for another reason in such reports.
"If it’s evidence of a crime," Yates said. "This idea that there’s this dramatic unmasking of a name -- in my experience, that never happened."
She reported her concerns to the White House counsel after it became clear Flynn had lied to administration officials, who then repeated the lie and gave Russian officials -- who knew what their ambassador had discussed with the national security adviser -- possible blackmail leverage.
"It started out as general stuff, and then you’ve got the vice president, and then Sean Spicer on the 23rd gets very specific," Yates said. "Flynn is interviewed (by the FBI) on the 24th. We get the readout (of Flynn's call to the ambassador) on the 25th and have consult about impact on investigation, and I call first thing on the 26th."
Yates spoke to the magazine this week, along with CNN, after testifying last week about her warning to White House officials about Flynn, who she believed had been compromised by Russia and may have broken the law.
"We had just gone and told them that the national-security adviser, of all people, was compromised with the Russians and that their vice president and others had been lying to the American people about it," Yates told the magazine. "We expected them to act. We expected them to do something immediately."
Instead, Yates was fired four days later, and Flynn remained on the job for another 18 days, until a Washington Post report revealed her warning to the White House.