White House denies blocking ex-AG from giving evidence
The White House denied accusations last night that it blocked Sally Yates, the former acting US attorney general, from giving evidence to a congressional committee investigating any links between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia.
Mrs Yates was scheduled to testify to the House intelligence committee this week, but the hearing was cancelled yesterday without explanation.
A lawyer for Mrs Yates claimed the department of justice had notified her that much of what she had to say was protected by presidential privilege. It was believed Mrs Yates's testimony could contradict that of other White House officials.
David O'Neil, Mrs Yates's lawyer, said he had been instructed by the justice department that all actions she took as attorney general were "client confidences" that could not be disclosed without written approval.
But Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said: "I hope she testifies. I look forward to it."
He criticised the media over its pursuit of evidence of links between the administration and Russia.
Mr Spicer said: "If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection."
Mrs Yates was fired by Mr Trump - whose poll rating has slumped to a new low of 36pc, according to Gallup - after she refused to legally defend his order banning entry to the US by citizens of some Muslim countries.
She also played a key role in the investigation into links between Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Michael Flynn, Mr Trump's former national security adviser.
Meanwhile, Republican congressman Devin Nunes, the committee chairman, rejected calls for him to step down as Democrats called him a "White House whisperer". Mr Nunes admitted he went to the White House grounds last week to meet a secret source, and the following day announced that Mr Trump's communications had been caught up in "incidental surveillance" by the intelligence agencies.
Paul Ryan, the Republican House speaker, said there was no need for Mr Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation over links to the White House.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with Mr Trump the first full week of April, a senior State Department official said yesterday. The first in-person encounter between the leaders comes after Trump sharply criticised China during the presidential campaign. (© Daily Telegraph London)