The White House on Tuesday defended the elapsed time between when the acting attorney general warned the administration about national security adviser Michael Flynn and when President Donald Trump asked for his resignation.
Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified Monday that the Justice Department believed Flynn had been “compromised” and susceptible to blackmail after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about his discussions with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. regarding sanctions.
Yates informed White House counsel Don McGahn of the findings in January, but 18 days elapsed before Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation.
“She had come here, given a heads-up, told us there were materials, and at the same time we did what we should do. Just because someone comes in and gives you a heads-up about something and says ‘I wanna share some information’ doesn’t mean that you immediately jump the gun and take an action,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday. “I think if you flip the scenario and say, ‘What if we had just dismissed somebody because a political opponent of the president had made an utterance?’ You would argue that it was pretty irrational to act in that manner. We did what we were supposed to do.”
Recounting what went down, Spicer said Yates came to the White House on Jan. 26 and informed the counsel’s office about some materials. It took about a week, he said, before officials had access to those documents.
“After that time, they did what you should do, frankly, [which] is an element of due process, reviewing the situation,” Spicer said. “They informed the president right away after they were informed of her giving us a heads-up, and ultimately, the president made the right decision.”
Spicer cast Yates as a Democratic appointee — “appointed by the Obama administration and a strong supporter of Clinton,” he said of her — who was hostile to Trump and his agenda. Yates was dismissed after refusing to defend Trump’s travel ban.
He referred to Yates as “someone who is not exactly a supporter of the president’s agenda who a couple days after this first conversation took place refused to uphold a lawful order of the president’s who is not exactly someone that was excited about President Trump taking office or his agenda.”