National Security

Sally Yates Admits Comey Went ‘Rogue’ With Flynn Interview

Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates said Wednesday that former FBI director James Comey went "rogue" when he arranged an interview with former national security adviser Michael Flynn without her authorization.

"You could use that term [rogue], yes," Yates told Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). That conversation would lead to Flynn pleading guilty to lying to FBI investigators, a plea he later reversed due to FBI misconduct.

"I was upset that Director Comey didn't coordinate that with us and acted unilaterally, yes I was," Yates added during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Yates said she did not want to authorize the FBI's interview of Flynn, which occurred after the bureau reversed its decision to drop charges against him. Instead, she said she wanted to go to the White House to inform them of Flynn's phone conversation with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Graham asked Yates whether or not Flynn was being investigated for violating the Logan Act, a centuries-old act that prohibits unauthorized correspondences between American citizens and foreign governments in dispute with the United States. Yates said the investigation was not about the Logan Act, but that there was a counterintelligence investigation into Flynn. Graham pointed out that on Jan. 4, 2017, FBI agents were prepared to close the investigation after failing to uncover evidence that Flynn was working against the United States. Flynn's interview with the FBI occurred on Jan. 24, 2017.

The recommendation to end the investigation was reversed suddenly, and communications between agents indicate that it was continued due to interest from FBI leadership. Comey soon directed agents to interview Flynn, and although they said Flynn did not lie to them, Special Counsel Robert Mueller later got Flynn to plead guilty to lying. Flynn eventually withdrew his guilty plea, and the Department of Justice dropped the charges due to evidence of agents' misconduct.

"You didn't authorize the interview. As a matter of fact, you wanted to go to the White House and tell them about the problem, didn't you?" Graham asked Yates.

"That's right," Yates said.

Flynn withdrew his guilty plea after unsealed documents showed FBI agents appearing to discuss entrapping him. The Justice Department dropped charges against Flynn in May, saying the interview "was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn."