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House panel's Russia hearing with Obama officials is back on

Sally Yates (Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images)
Sally Yates (Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images)

A previously canceled House Intelligence Committee hearing to receive testimony from three former top Obama administration officials about Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election is back on for next month.

The panel said Friday it had invited Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general fired by President Trump, former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, to testify sometime after May 2 in an open hearing after their original testimony was abruptly canceled in March by Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare).

The announcement indicates that the panel’s Russia investigation, which was thrown into turmoil last month after Nunes stepped aside as head of the probe following allegations he may have improperly disclosed classified information, is getting back on track.

Rep. K. Michael Conaway, (R-Texas) took over as head of the investigation after Nunes' decision.

A committee news release on Thursday also said that FBI Director James B. Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, would testify in a closed session on May 2.

Nunes’ decision to call off the original hearing with Yates, Brennan and Clapper came only days after the committee's first public hearing in which Comey confirmed that the bureau was investigating Russia's ties to President Trump's associates.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) called the cancellation of the hearing a “dodge” by Nunes to aid the White House. Schiff said Nunes' connections to the White House raised insurmountable public doubts about whether the committee could credibly investigate the president's campaign associates.

Yates, who was fired in January after she refused to defend the Trump administration's proposed travel ban, was expected to be questioned about her role in the firing of Trump's first national security advisor, Michael Flynn.

Yates alerted the White House in January that Flynn had misled the White House about whether he had discussed sanctions in a December phone call with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Flynn was not ousted from the White House until the discrepancies were made public.

Nunes came under fierce criticism from Democrats for making public information provided him to him last month by White House aides concerning classified intelligence reports that apparently referred to Trump associates -- information that Nunes did not provide to members of his committee.

He stepped aside as head of the Russia investigation after the leaders of the House Ethics Committee said it is investigating whether Nunes improperly disclosed classified information, apparently when he held a news conference last month to claim that Trump associates' names had been revealed in intelligence reports.

Nunes has denied wrongdoing.

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