House intel panel invites former acting AG Sally Yates to testify

The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday asked several senior Obama administration officials, including former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, to testify publicly in the panel’s probe into Russian interference in the U.S. election.

The committee has also invited FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers to return before the committee to testify in a closed setting.

The Yates hearing would be scheduled after Comey and Rogers appear, slated for May 2. Former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have also been invited to testify with Yates.

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The timing of the two hearings has been a point of partisan contention on the panel and has been one of many fights that has threatened to undermine the committee's investigation. 

The open panel, including Yates, had previously been scheduled in March, but was canceled by committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

The Washington Post reported at the time that the White House sought to block her from testifying, a charge that White House press secretary Sean Spicer has denied.

Nunes said that the hearing had been nixed to make room for a closed-door briefing with Comey and Rogers — but Democrats argued that Nunes was attempting to prevent Yates from giving testimony that was expected to damage the president.

The week before Yates had been scheduled to testify, Comey confirmed the existence of the FBI’s investigation into ties between President Trump’s campaign and Russia in an open hearing.

Reports suggest that Yates, who was fired by Trump for refusing to defend in court his original travel ban, was expected to provide testimony that would conflict with comments from White House staff.

Yates first alerted the White House that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled Vice President Pence about the content of his calls to the Russian ambassador. The public revelation of those calls led to his resignation in February.

Nunes, who is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for potentially revealing classified information, has faced fierce scrutiny over his relationship to the White House and has since stepped aside from the probe.