Group sues for Sally Yates’ Justice Department emails

A conservative watchdog group is suing for access to Sally Yates’ emails from her brief but eventful tenure as acting attorney general during the early days of the Trump administration.

Judicial Watch filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in federal court in Washington Friday, seeking copies of Yates’ email traffic from January 20, 2017 through January 31, 2017—one day after she was fired by President Donald Trump for refusing to defend his travel ban executive order.

The emails could also shed light on the bigger controversy that has enmeshed Yates and the Trump White House: her decision to warn the president that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was misrepresenting his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. Sources say Yates also told White House Counsel Don McGahn that Flynn was susceptible to blackmail or pressure from the Russians because the public account the White House offered was inaccurate.

Flynn was fired on February 13, after just 24 days as national security adviser. White House officials said McGahn concluded there was no legal violation on Flynn’s part, but Vice President Mike Pence was troubled that Flynn had not been candid with him about the Russian contacts during the Trump transition.

Yates is set to discuss the saga Monday for the first time, during highly-anticipated testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Judicial Watch’s suit says the group requested the emails under FOIA on February 1, 2017, about two weeks before Yates’ warning to the White House became public in a Washington Post report.

It’s unclear how many Flynn-related emails exist in Yates’ account since any detailed discussion of that issue would likely be classified and may have been handled in separate systems or on paper. Congressional investigators may also seek that same information from the Justice Department.

The suit was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

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