White House officials on Tuesday defended President Trump’s delay in firing his first national security adviser by accusing the veteran prosecutor who warned them about his misdeeds of being a partisan who opposed the president’s agenda.
Sally Q. Yates, whom Mr. Trump chose to serve as acting attorney general at the beginning of his administration, testified to a Senate subcommittee on Monday that she had warned the White House in January that Michael T. Flynn, the national security adviser, had lied about his contacts with Russian officials and was vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government.
Mr. Trump waited 18 days after that warning to fire Mr. Flynn, and did so only after news reports revealed publicly that Mr. Flynn had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Russian officials.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said on Tuesday that top officials, including the president, had dismissed the warnings from Ms. Yates because she was a top Justice Department official in the Obama administration and, Mr. Spicer insisted, a supporter of Hillary Clinton.
“Just because someone comes in and gives you a heads-up about something and says, ‘I want to share some information,’ doesn’t mean that you immediately jump the gun and go take an action,” Mr. Spicer told reporters.
“I think if you flip this scenario and say, ‘What if we had just dismissed somebody because a political opponent of the president had made an utterance,’ you would argue that it was pretty irrational to act in that matter,” he added.