A House Intelligence Committee hearing was abruptly canceled, and a published report says the intent was to block the former acting attorney general from discussing possible links between Russian officials and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department sent letters to Sally Yates indicating that a great deal of her prospective testimony would be barred from a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by presidential communication privilege.
That left the ranking member of the House committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, openly speculating:
‘Today’s hearing would also have provided the opportunity for former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates to testify about the events leading up to former National Security Advisor Flynn’s firing, including his attempts to cover up his secret conversations with the Russian Ambassador. We are aware that former AG Yates intended to speak on these matters, and 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 today’s hearing, we do not know.’
The White House, for its part, rejects this interpretation: “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,” it said in a statement.
Separately, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the chairman of the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican, should not step down despite calls by Democrats for him to do so.
See: Nunes met source at White House before surveillance announcement
Plus: Dick Cheney: Russian intervention in U.S. election ‘would be considered an act of war’ in ‘some quarters’