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Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announces the settlement with Volkswagen during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Volkswagen will spend more than $15 billion to settle consumer lawsuits and government allegations that it cheated on emissions tests in what lawyers are calling the largest auto-related class-action settlement in U.S. history. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

The Trump administration denied it tried to block Sally Yates from testifying to Congress


UPDATE 1:19 p.m. EST:

Spicer weighed in.

Former deputy attorney general Sally Yates had been asked to testify before the House Intelligence Committee this week, but that meeting was canceled by Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA).

The Washington Post reports that cancellation was part of an effort by the Trump administration to keep Yates from testifying in the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Yates was fired for ordering lawyers not to defend the original version of Trump's travel ban in court.

According to letters obtained by the Post, the Justice Department considers much of Yates' testimony likely to be barred from discussion at a hearing under presidential communication privilege. 

Yates was also pivotal in the investigation into former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was ousted after revealing that he had discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak

Ranking committee member Adam Schiff (D-CA) urged the committee to let her testify.

The White House called the Post story "entirely false" in a statement.

In the letters obtained by the Post, Yates' attorney David O'Neil described the Department of Justice's position on Yates, which he described as "overbroad, incorrect and inconsistent."

Scott Schools, a Justice Department official, replied that Yates' conversations with the White House were "likely covered by the presidential communications privileges." O'Neil then said any claim of privilege had been "waived," but that he would tell the White House that Yates intended to testify. That day, the hearing was canceled.

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