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Politics

White House defends its handling of Michael Flynn firing

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday defended the Trump administration's handling of Michael Flynn's firing amid criticism of how long it took the former national security advisor to leave the White House.

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates told a Senate panel Monday she warned the White House that Flynn "essentially could be blackmailed" by Russia more than two weeks before he was fired. President Donald Trump removed Flynn in February after it was revealed in news reports that he had lied about the nature of his conversations with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States.

"The decision that we made was the right one. ... He stands by it," Spicer told reporters.

Spicer aimed to cast doubt on the credibility of Yates, a career Justice Department official who Trump fired after she declined to defend the first version of Trump's divisive restrictions on travel from several predominantly Muslim countries. He alleged without evidence that Yates was a supporter of Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in the November presidential election.

The White House spokesman cast Yates' warning as a "heads up" and said the White House did not want to "jump the gun" in response to it. Eighteen days went by between Yates expressing her concerns to the White House and Flynn being removed from the post.

Spicer added that he was not aware of any security restrictions placed on Flynn after the warning.

He reiterated that it was Flynn's misleading of Vice President Mike Pence about the topics of his conversations, not Yates' warnings, that led to his firing.

After the hearing Monday, Trump claimed in a tweet that Yates said "nothing but old news."

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