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Ousted Obama official to speak on Trump aide's Russia talks

Yates told senators Monday that the DOJ knew that Pence's characterization was wrong and that the department felt that the vice president and other White House officials "were entitled to know that the information they were conveying to the American people" was false.

But fourth, she said, "the Russians also knew that General Flynn had misled the vice president and others", and "this was a problem", because they likely "had proof of this situation", and this potentially exposed Flynn to blackmail.

Flynn was forced to step down in February for failing to disclose talks with Sergei Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States, about U.S. sanctions on Moscow and misleading vice-president Mike Pence about the conversations, which occurred before Trump took office.

Yates, a longtime federal prosecutor and Obama administration holdover, was sacked January 31 by Trump after refusing to defend the administration's travel ban.

Why did Trump take so long to fire Flynn?

Flynn stayed on as national security adviser for the administration for 18 days after Yates first brought those concerns to the White House counsel's office.

Yates, appearing on Capitol Hill for the first time since Trump fired her over a separate matter, said she met twice in January with White House counsel Donald McGahn to discuss "underlying conduct" by Flynn that was "problematic".

In the hearing, Yates said she didn't know how the Washington Post got the story.

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Also testifying Monday, former Director of National Intelligence stressed that Russia's interference in last year's election is "a clarion call for vigilance and action against a threat to the very foundations of our democratic political system".

Mr Flynn served under Mr Obama as defence intelligence chief before Mr Obama dismissed him from that post.

Yates also testified on Monday that foreign efforts to undermine US elections constitute "a serious threat to all Americans".

Yates' testimony returned the spotlight to the simmering controversy over Russia's meddling in last year's United States election. Obama warned Trump about Flynn during their Oval Office meeting on November 10, days after Trump was elected president, the officials told CNN.

Yates told the committee that in the second meeting McGahn had inquired as to why the Justice Department would be concerned about one administration figure misleading another. But in fact, surveillance of Kislyak revealed that Flynn did in fact discuss sanctions with the ambassador, according to reports. Because the identity of US citizens' conversations are kept secret from all but a handful of top intelligence officials, including someone in Yates's position, who unmasked Flynn's identity to the media? He said he was not aware of the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign until FBI Director James Comey testified that it was happening.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is one of several bodies in Congress probing Russian interference.

Committee chairman Senator Lindsey Graham, who has repeatedly called for military action against Russian Federation, discussed his concerns about unmasking during the hearing. Both often declined to answer many of Graham's questions regarding Russian collusion.

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