Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, reiterated today that the White House had been warned that Mike Flynn, the president's former national security adviser, could have been a target of blackmail by the Russians.
"I think this was a serious compromise situation that the Russians had real leverage," Yates said in an interview with CNN, a portion of which aired Tuesday morning. Earlier this month she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Flynn had become compromised in his role.
Yates, who fired by President Donald Trump in January, said she had met with White House Counsel Don McGahn twice in-person at the end of January to discuss Flynn’s conduct "in a fair amount of detail."
Press secretary Sean Spicer said in February that Flynn was pushed out by President Trump "not based on a legal issue, but based on a trust issue," adding that Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
According to Spicer, McGahn went through a "very deliberative process, a very thorough review" of Flynn's actions and Trump was "very confident" in McGahn's review.
"I don't know how the White House reached the conclusion that there was no legal issue. It certainly wasn't from my discussion with them," Yates told CNN Tuesday.
"There's certainly a criminal statute that was implicated by his conduct," she added.