Tuesday brought an endless stream of new revelations in the Mueller investigation of Donald Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice and his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian government operatives. Witness interviews included even members of the president’s most inner circle, as well as interviews of witnesses to the acts that to even the most untrained eye appear to constitute obstruction by the president.
In the latest news of a string of witnesses to have been interviewed comes former CIA Director Mike Pompeo as well as former acting Attorney General Sally Yates.
The country watched with growing alarm as Yates testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2017, but her cooperation in the Mueller probe was kept under wraps until now. Yates was the first to sound the alarm to Donald Trump’s administration about the potential compromise they faced with Michael Flynn serving as a national security adviser.
Yates went to White House counsel Don McGahn on January 26, 2017 to warn that the Russian government had blackmail power over Flynn, yet Flynn was not fired until February 13. In the nearly three weeks between Yates’ warning and Flynn’s firings, McGahn took the allegations that Flynn may have even committed crimes seriously enough to begin researching those acts and their legal consequences.
‘The White House turned over records this fall to special counsel Robert Mueller revealing that in the very first days of the Trump presidency, Don McGahn researched federal law dealing both with lying to federal investigators and with violations of the Logan Act, a centuries-old federal law that prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments, according to three people with direct knowledge of the confidential government documents.’
While it may have taken nearly three weeks for Flynn’s crimes to be addressed by the White House by firing him, it only took five days for Yates herself to be fired after warning McGahn about Flynn. All of these details are of special interest to Robert Mueller and his investigators, and Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI upon being indicted for the crime.
A second interview also provides insight into the direction of the Mueller investigation. Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo was both a “peripheral witness” to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, who was pressured by Trump to drop the investigation into Michael Flynn. Pompeo himself was also “leaned on by Trump” to pressure Comey to drop the investigation, making him a key witness in the probe of Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.
‘Flynn’s tenure in the White House and his firing by Trump are among the topics Mueller’s team has been asking witnesses to discuss, and they are likely to be part of any questioning of the president. Separately, Mueller is expected to want to ask Trump about his firing of Comey. The president told NBC News last year that his decision was connected to Comey’s dogged pursuit of potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump has repeatedly called the investigation a “hoax” and a “witch-hunt.”‘
Mueller is expected to begin laying the groundwork to question the president in the coming weeks.
Featured image via Getty/The Asahi Shimbun