The Washington Post's Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous just broke a big story: that the Trump administration fought to prevent Yates from testifying in front of the House Intelligence Committee just before Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) canceled her hearing. Per emails Barrett and Entous obtained, the Justice Department claimed that a large portion of Yates's testimony was barred from being discussed at a hearing because of presidential communication privilege.
That's troublesome for the White House, because two other administration officials — FBI Director James B. Comey and National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers — already have testified publicly before the committee. During their testimony, they declined to discuss certain things pertaining to open investigations. But Comey did confirm that there was an ongoing investigation of possible ties between Russian officials and members of Donald Trump's presidential campaign and transition team.
Yates is what the White House probably considers a more hostile witness, given that she was an appointee of Barack Obama and was fired by Trump after declining to enforce his travel ban. It's not difficult to see why the Trump team would want to put a stop to this.
But it's even more troubling because it leads to the obvious question: Did Nunes cancel the hearing at the White House's behest? The hearing was canceled Friday shortly after Yates's attorney informed White House counsel Donald McGahn that Yates would move forward with testifying, despite the White House's objections.
While being chased by reporters Tuesday morning, an irritated Nunes declined to say whether the White House asked him to cancel the hearing. He even suggested, curiously, that the hearing hadn't actually been canceled.
It's merely the latest bit of evidence that suggests Nunes and the White House are a little too much on the same page on this stuff. As I wrote earlier Tuesday, Nunes has regularly gone out of his way to cast doubt on allegations made against the Trump administration and suggested there simply isn't anything nefarious going on — even though the investigation is ongoing. And last week, Nunes apologized for briefing the White House first on findings that suggested Trump and his associates were swept up in legal surveillance. We later also found out that Nunes got his information during a trip to the White House itself, but he hasn't revealed his source.
There is no smoking gun of coordination between Nunes and the White House on all of this, but there's a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that suggests the man leading the investigation that includes alleged ties between Russia and the Trump team isn't particularly impartial.
For Nunes, no-commenting on whether the White House pressured him to cancel the hearing just isn't a tenable position. If it did, that's a whole new set of problems for him and the White House.
And for the White House, it at the very least looks like it's afraid of what might be revealed in a hearing that includes the likes of Yates. That's a very bad look.