Sally Yates and James Clapper, the former acting Attorney General and former Director of National Intelligence, testified before the Senate hearing about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Yates and Clapper answered numerous questions regarding Michael Flynn, the reasoning behind informing the White House about concerns, leaks, and the unmasking process used in the intelligence community.
Yates stated that she decided to inform the White House about Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia because of Vice President’s remarks about Flynn not having contact with Russia. She felt that Russia might be able to exploit Flynn in order to prevent them from exposing his interactions. Clapper and Yates both stated under oath that they had never been involved in any leaks either themselves or in ordering another to leak information; they also stated they did not know the source of the leaks.
Clapper stressed that the unmasking process was carried out by the intelligence collecting agency, usually the NSA, at the request of an individual for the sole intent of clarifying the context of the collected information. The unmasked information is then only provided to the person who requested it. Both Yates and Clapper also answered affirmatively that they had handled unmasked information which involved Trump, an associate of Trump’s, or a congressional lawmaker and that they were unable to comment further.