Senate Republicans probing Susan Rice’s Michael Flynn email
Senate GOP investigators “are now taking a closer look” at a January 2017 email that former national security adviser Susan Rice wrote to herself to document a meeting she’d earlier had with then-President Barack Obama about Michael Flynn, Fox News reported, citing a source.
“President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book,’” Rice emailed to herself, referring to Flynn’s calls to then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
“The president stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”
Rice wrote that Obama “wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.”
She added: “The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.”
An exhibit in the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case last week related a Special Counsel interview with ex-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, relating to the January 5 meeting Rice memorialized in her email.
The interview indicated Obama was aware of Flynn’s intercepted December 2016 phone calls with Kislyak during the presidential transition.
The document noted Yates learned about the calls during the Oval Office meeting with Obama, Rice, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and then-Vice President Joe Biden, Fox reported.
After the briefing, Obama asked Yates and Comey to “stay behind,” and said he had “learned of the information about Flynn” and his conversation with Russia’s ambassador about sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Crimea.
Obama “specified that he did not want any additional information on the matter, but was seeking information on whether the White House should be treating Flynn any differently, given the information,” according to the interview.
At that point, the document said, “Yates had no idea what the president was talking about, but figured it out based on the conversation. Yates recalled Comey mentioning the Logan Act, but can’t recall if he specified there was an ‘investigation.’ Comey did not talk about prosecution in the meeting.”
Flynn was later investigated and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, though he later tried to withdraw the plea and had asked for a new trial before Justice moved to drop the case.
A source close to the Senate Judiciary Committee told Fox News on Monday that GOP Senate investigators are now taking a closer look at Rice’s email as a result of the new document, but apparently did not elaborate on what specifically they were looking for.
Rice’s office downplayed the email when it first surfaced in early 2018, raising questions at the time from congressional Republicans, including Sens. Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), the former Senate Judiciary Committee chair, and Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), who now sits as chairman of the panel.
Graham at the time described Rice’s email as “disturbing.”
But Rice’s attorney at the time, Kathryn Ruemmler, said there was “nothing ‘unusual’” about Rice “memorializing an important discussion for the record.”
“The Obama White House was justifiably concerned about how comprehensive they should be in their briefings regarding Russia to members of the Trump transition team, particularly Lt. General Michael Flynn, given the concerning communications between him and Russian officials,” Ruemmler said in a statement to Fox News in 2018.
Flynn’s lawyer has accused Obama of “framing” his client, while the former president slammed Attorney General William Barr’s move to drop the case against the former US Army general.
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