Lawyer says Trump administration moved to squelch testimony

WASHINGTON (AP) — A lawyer for former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote in letters last week that the Trump administration was trying to limit her testimony at congressional hearings focused on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The hearing was later canceled by the House intelligence committee chairman.

In the letters, attorney David O’Neil said he understood the Justice Department was invoking “further constraints” on testimony Yates could provide at a committee hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday. He said the department’s position was that all actions she took as deputy attorney general were “client confidences” that could not be disclosed without written approval.

“We believe that the Department’s position in this regard is overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the Department’s historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former senior officials,” O’Neil wrote in a March 23 letter to Justice Department official Samuel Ramer.

The lawyer said Yates still intended to testify and would not disclose any classified information. The requirement that she not discuss even non-classified material “is particularly untenable given that multiple senior administration officials have publicly described the same events,” he said.

House committee chairman Devin Nunes announced he was canceling the meeting on March 24, one of several moves b him that have sparked outrage from Democrats on the committee. The typically bipartisan panel has been torn by disputes over Nunes’ ties to President Donald’s Trump’s campaign and questions about whether he can lead a probe independent of White House influence.

On Tuesday, Nunes rebuffed calls to step aside from the investigation.

“It’s the same thing as always around this place — a lot of politics, people get heated, but I’m not going to involve myself with that,” he said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan continued to express confidence in Nunes Tuesday, saying there is no need for the…

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