Ex-Obama administration officials to testify in Trump-Russia probe

By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two officials in former President Barack Obama’s administration will testify on Monday in a Senate investigation into allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence under Obama, and Sally Yates, who was Deputy Attorney General, will testify to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, the first such public testimony by former officials from the Democratic administration in one of congressional probes on Russia.

Congressional committees began investigating after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered hacking of Democratic political groups to discredit the election and sway the voting toward Republican Trump, who won an upset victory in November.

Moscow has denied any such meddling. Trump also has dismissed the allegations, suggesting instead that Obama might have wiretapped his Trump Tower in New York or that China may have been behind the cyber attacks. No evidence has been found to support either allegation.

The public hearing will be the first featuring testimony by Obama administration officials who have left government. Trump fired Yates from the Department of Justice in January, and Clapper retired on Jan. 20, when Trump was inaugurated.

Senator Lindsey Graham, the subcommittee’s chairman who called the hearing is a Russia hawk and sometime critic of Trump who has been one of the leading Republican voices calling for a thorough investigation of Russia and the election.

Yates is expected to tell the senators that on Jan. 26, when she was acting Attorney General, she had warned White House Counsel Don McGahn that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had not told the truth about conversations he had with Sergei Kislyak, Moscow’s Ambassador to Washington, about U.S. economic sanctions on Russia.

Flynn resigned after…

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