The behind-the-scenes revelation came to light in a memo of an interview with Yates, among a trove of documents released as the DOJ dropped its criminal case against Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.
Yates first learned of the contacts between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — in which Flynn asked that Russia refrain from retaliating to sanctions imposed over interference in the 2016 election — from President Obama himself, the FBI memo says.
Obama told Yates during a January 2017 meeting in the Oval Office that he had “learned of the information about Flynn” and wanted to know how to proceed, according to the documents.
Then-FBI director James Comey was also in the meeting — held in the final days of the Obama administration — but didn’t float the idea of prosecuting Flynn, the papers say.
Days later, Vice President-elect Mike Pence appeared on “Face the Nation” and said that Flynn had told him his conversations with Kislyak were on the level, and included no discussion of sanctions.
Yates pushed to notify the Trump camp that they had information to the contrary, if only to prevent Pence from unwittingly lying to the public, according to the papers.
But in a call with Comey after Trump’s inauguration, the G-man blindsided Yates by telling her that two FBI agents were en route to interview Flynn at the White House, the memo says, leaving Yates infuriated at not being looped in on the move.
“You can understand why I did this,” Yates recalled Comey saying in the call, explaining that it was so the probe didn’t “look political.”
Flynn was ultimately forced to resign as NSA after less than a month in the post, and pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about the calls with Kislyak.
Flynn indicated at the time that he would testify that he reached out to Russia at Trump’s behest, directly contradicting the president’s proclamations of innocence.
But Flynn instead sought to retract his guilty plea, a process that was still ongoing before Thursday’s DOJ shocker.
Trump hailed Flynn on Thursday as a “hero” victimized by “human scum” within the Obama administration.