Sally Yates

If the saga of Michael Flynn feels like it's been hanging over President Trump's head since Inauguration Day, that's because it has.

The story of how Trump's first national security adviser came to plead guilty to lying to FBI investigators and cooperate in the special counsel's Russia investigation spans two presidential terms and also touches government officials who were subsequently fired by Trump.

It was like two different hearings in one.

Democrats quizzed former Obama administration officials on Russia, how former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn had been "compromised" and how the White House officials conducted themselves when confronted with the information.

Republicans wanted to know how the information got out in the first place.

It was striking watching the two distinct focuses on a topic — national security — that shouldn't be so hotly partisan.

And the data bear out the different approaches.

It was a matter of urgency, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates says, when she called White House lawyers back in late January.

She needed to tell them that Gen. Michael Flynn, then-national security adviser, appeared to be lying to the White House, making him vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow.

"We believed that Gen. Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians," Yates told a Senate subcommittee on Monday. "To state the obvious, you don't want your national security adviser compromised by the Russians."

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

A Senate hearing Monday on Russian meddling in the 2016 election is expected to feature two powerful Washington women, one of whom will be in the room — and one of whom will not.

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET

President Trump has fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, concluding she has "betrayed the Department of Justice" by refusing to defend his executive order that imposes a temporary ban on refugees and visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries.

In a statement, the White House called Yates, an Obama administration holdover with 27 years of experience prosecuting corrupt public officials and the man who bombed the Atlanta Olympic park, "weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."

Prosecutors usually spend their energy putting criminals behind bars, not urging their release. But racial disparities in the system and the huge costs of locking up so many people are pushing some government officials to call for a new approach.

One of them is the woman who now runs day-to-day operations at the Justice Department. Sally Yates says she's hardly soft on crime: "I'm a career prosecutor."