Georgia 2018: Sally Yates rules out a run for governor next year

Former acting Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates gave her first media interviews this week, ruling out a run for governor in 2018 as she discussed the dismissal of former FBI Director Jim Comey and her warnings to ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in interviews with CNN and The New Yorker.

Yates, who once led Atlanta’s U.S. Attorney office, told CNN that Flynn was in a “serious compromise situation, that the Russians had real leverage” over him. She also said Flynn misled Vice President Mike Pence and that there was "certainly a criminal statute” he could have violated.

Her interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper is set to air at 8 p.m. Tuesday and excerpts from her sit-down with The New Yorker were published Tuesday. She discussed with both outlets why she refused to enforce President Donald Trump’s executive order barring immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Yates testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee last week, issuing her first public remarks since she was fired by Trump on Jan. 30. She said Flynn may have been “compromised” by the Russians and that she warned Trump’s top lawyer that Flynn could become a blackmail target.

Yates became a symbol of the resistance to Trump after she was fired for refusing to carry out his immigration order. She has not said what she will do next, though she said she will not run for governor next year despite attempts from some leading Georgia Democrats to recruit her.

“I am totally ruling out the governor’s race. I am not running for governor," she told The New Yorker, though she left the door open for an electoral bid down the road.

“I recognize that I may have a voice that I didn’t have before. And part of what I want to be able to do is to figure out how I can responsibly use that voice in a way to impact things that I think really matter. I just don’t know what form that takes," she said in The New Yorker interview, adding: “I’ve got to give something more back.”

Yates' decision comes as little surprise - she dropped nary a hint about a gubernatorial run over the last few months - and is a relief to two other Democrats circling the race: House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and state Rep. Stacey Evans.

Read more on MyAJC: Sally Yates: ‘I did my job the best way I knew how’

More AJC coverage:

Kasim Reed is 'hopeful' Sally Yates runs for governor

Parsing the silence of Sally Yates, the new hero of Georgia Democrats

Sally Yates: Martyr to the left, pariah to the right

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.