Sally Yates to testify about warning White House on Michael Flynn

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates is expected to testify to Congress next week that she expressed alarm to the White House about President Donald Trump‘s national security adviser’s contacts with the Russian ambassador, which could contradict how the administration has characterized her counsel.

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Yates on Monday is expected to recount her Jan. 26 conversation about Michael Flynn and to say that she was concerned by discrepancies between the administration’s public statements on his contacts with ambassador Sergey Kislyak and what really transpired, according to a person familiar with that discussion and knowledgeable about Yates’s plans for her testimony.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to pre-empt the testimony.

READ MORE: Donald Trump’s former adviser Michael Flynn was warned in 2014 not to take foreign payments

Yates is expected to say that she told White House counsel Don McGahn that she believed Flynn’s communications with Kislyak could leave Flynn in a compromised position because of the contradictions between the public depictions of the calls and what intelligence officials knew to be true, the person said.

White House officials have said publicly that Yates merely wanted to give them a “heads-up” about Flynn’s Russian contacts, but Yates is likely to testify that she approached the White House with alarm, according to the person.

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“So just to be clear, the acting attorney general informed the White House counsel that they wanted to give a ‘heads up’ to us on some comments that may have seemed in conflict with what he had sent the Vice President out in particular,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at a Feb. 14 press briefing.

Flynn resigned in February after published reports detailed Yates’s conversation with the White House. White House officials initially maintained that Flynn had not discussed Russian sanctions with Kislyak during the transition period, but after news reports said the opposite, they then admitted that he had misled them about the nature of that call.

READ MORE: Former Donald Trump adviser Michael Flynn likely broke law with Russia trip, House committee says

“The issue, pure and simple, came down to a matter of trust,” Spicer told reporters.

Flynn was in frequent contact with Kislyak on the day the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia for election-related hacking, as well as at other times during the transition period, a U.S. official has said.

Yates’s scheduled appearance before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, alongside former national intelligence director James Clapper, will provide her first public account of the conversation with the White House. It will also represent her first testimony before Congress since Yates, an Obama administration holdover, was fired in January for refusing to defend Trump’s travel ban.

She was previously scheduled to appear in March before a House committee investigating Russian interference in the presidential election, but that hearing was canceled.

In B.C., a case of Lucky Lager cost $34.99 in 2015. This year it’s $39.09: NDP study

In the past two years, B.C. residents have found themselves having to dig into their pockets for an extra $5 if they want to buy a 24-case of Lucky Lager.

They’re paying more for a litany of other boozy drinks, too.

That’s according to a report from an unidentified consultant that was released by BC NDP candidate David Eby on Monday.

The study looked at 156 randomly-selected alcoholic drinks as part of its study.

It found that 153 products saw price hikes of anywhere between one and 64 per cent, while just two saw their prices go down.

Glenlivet Archive 21-Year-Old Scotch Whisky saw the most dramatic price hike, going from a pre-tax cost of $173.90 in 2015 to $285.99 this year.

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Meanwhile, the pre-tax cost for a 24-pack of Lucky Lager was $30.43 in 2015. This year, it’s $33.99.

Add in sales taxes of 15 per cent, and the after-tax cost went from $34.99 to $39.09 in two years.

READ MORE: New B.C. liquor laws come into effect today

These pricing changes have come at the same time as a new liquor pricing model came into effect in B.C. in 2015.

The report said that the pricing model was intended to keep prices “the same.”

But that’s not happening, according to the study.

While liquor prices have gone up, government revenues from the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) have grown from $935.2 million in the fiscal year ended March 2015 to $1.03 billion in the following year.

Wine and sparkling wine are shown on display at a B.C. liquor store in Vancouver, Friday, Dec. 19, 2008.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

“It’s a very clear relationship between higher prices and more revenue to government,” Eby told Global News.

“This is a hidden beer tax, that’s all it is.”

Meanwhile, industry operators say they haven’t exactly seen a windfall since 2015.

“We’re not making any more than we were two years ago, individual government stores aren’t making any more money than they were two years ago,” said Jeff Guignard of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees.

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For her part, BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark laughed off the study’s findings at a Tuesday news conference.

“You know, the NDP reports are probably about as reliable as their platform,” she said.

The consultant’s report noted that it’s “not possible to definitively conclude that the price increases were a direct result of the new liquor pricing model.”

But there’s no doubt that, for many products people can find in a B.C. liquor store, they’re having to fork out more than they were used to just a couple of years ago.

With files from Ted Chernecki
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