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Stephen Yates, a former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and the current chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, is denying a CNN report that he organized the congratulatory phone call between President-elect Trump and the president of Taiwan.

“I should do the Washington thing and take credit [for the call] and go around and receive hefty checks for my role,” Yates told the Washington Examiner Friday night in a phone call. “But I was in Idaho this week … I think it was kind of strange that CNN was cat-fished on this, and I am mildly entertained by the criticism I have received for my non-existent role in this.”

Yates said CNN, which reported Friday night that he facilitated the phone call, never reached out to contact him to verify the information by phone or email.

“They are also reporting that I am going to receive an appointment to the White House — I will now go to the transition office and say, ‘I’m here to accept the job.'”



The conversation between Trump and President Tsai Ing-wen caused a media firestorm Friday night numerous Trump critics and longtime foreign policy experts claiming it broke decades of U.S. policy and could anger the Chinese government.

Trump and his team are downplaying it as a simple congratulatory call while critics argue that the president-elect has made a major diplomatic mistake and infuriated China by accepting a phone call that broke decades of diplomatic protocol.

Despite the uproar over the so-called diplomatic breach, Yates argues the controversy is overblown.

“I think there is a good reason to say that a foreign government shouldn’t be able to dictate who a U.S. leader does and does not talk to,” he said. “…We shouldn’t be accepting from China a weirdly defined one-China policy … Chinese provocations and developments in Taiwan could cause a conflict or a war so we better be having a conversation with the Taiwanese government.”

“We accidentally stumbled into a commonsense reality,” he added.

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Yates attributed the misinformation about his role to an erroneous report in the Chinese-language version of the Taipei Times that credited him with making the phone call happen.

The English version of the Taipei Times earlier Friday reported that Yates is in Taiwan and is scheduled to meet with Tsai, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee and National Security Council Secretary-General Joseph Wu before returning to the U.S. on Saturday.

The report said “Yates was in charge of drafting this year’s Republican platform and is good friends with Reince Priebus, who was recently appointed Trump’s White House chief of staff.”

The report also noted that Yates is “to be appointed a position in the White House after Trumps inauguration,” citing “Washington sources.”

Yates has several personal and business ties to Taiwan and said he is traveling there next week to meet with business clients but no one in the Taiwanese government. He told the Examiner that he was a missionary in Taiwan in the 1980s and developed several friendships that he still maintains. In addition, while serving at the Heritage Foundation in before and after his Bush administration tenure, he focused on Asian issues and wrote extensively about U.S. relations with Taiwan and China.

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He also previously was a registered foreign agent on behalf of Taiwan when he worked for the law and lobbying firm Barbour, Griffith & Rogers after leaving the White House from 2005 to 2006 and was on the board of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council during the same time period. Yates said the firm registered anyone that had even a slight role in working for a foreign country out of precaution to avoid violations of the laws requiring registration.

“That was less than a year of my life more than 10 years ago,” he said. “I come and go to Taiwan — I have some commercial clients there … my work is more analytical and advisory. It’s not public relations and lobbying — not the good stuff people get paid big money for.”

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