Hours before former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was scheduled to testify in front of a Senate subcommittee Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted a question he wants her to answer under oath.
“Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel,” Trump tweeted.
Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Counsel.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
Yates is scheduled to testify about her knowledge of former Trump adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia ahead of his ouster.
Trump’s critics quickly alleged foul play — and some went as far as to accuse the president of committing the “serious felony” of “witness tampering.”Pete Marovich/Getty Images
“The president is committing a serious felony (witness tampering) in full view of the American public,” attorney and columnist Seth Abramson wrote. “What’s the media going to do about it?”
The president is committing a serious felony (witness tampering) in full view of the American public. What's the media going to do about it? https://t.co/Lp04lEAL3q
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) May 8, 2017
Others seemed to agree with Abramson:
dude. the problem with the tweet isn’t your misspelling of the word, but your use of the office of president to target an individual
— Joel L. Watts (@eJoelWatts) May 8, 2017
Scared? You should be.
— Adrian Todd Zuniga (@atzuniga) May 8, 2017
You fixed the spelling! Still probably illegal for POTUS to intimidate a witness…
— Benjamin Byron Davis (@Tooda) May 8, 2017
Keep trying to discredit her, she's got you cornered.
— Geronimo on BPM (@GeronimoBPM) May 8, 2017
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said Monday that Trump was essentially “threatening a witness.”
“The idea of the President of the United States essentially threatening a witness, he’s basically accusing her of leaking, we have never had that before,” he said. “We’ve never had presidents who did this kind of thing. The idea that the president — the guy who’s in charge of the Justice Department — is threatening a witness is really kind of disturbing.”
President Trump fired Yates after she openly defied his immigration order in January, though as an Obama-era appointee, she was likely on her way out. The Trump administration has since questioned Yates’s credibility and reportedly attempted to block her from testifying on Russia.
Yates is scheduled to testify before the Senate subcommittee on Monday afternoon.