“How brazen they are sitting in the Oval Office on January 5th and saying they might not share intelligence with the incoming administration. And you know what that means? That means they didn’t want to give it to General Flynn.” said Washington lawyer, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Joe diGenova, during a Monday interview on the radio show, “Mornings on the Mall.”
How brazen indeed. And how foolish for then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice to memorialize it in an email to herself shortly after President Trump’s inauguration two weeks later.
Ever since this email was discovered in February 2018, the takeaway phrase “by the book” began to raise eyebrows. At the time, Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News, “I think that’s odd and disturbing because we know the investigation regarding the Trump campaign was anything but by the book.”
And, following the inclusion of the Special Counsel’s interview with former acting Attorney General Sally Yates in the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case, the January 5, 2016 Oval Office meeting has moved to center stage. Thus, Rice’s email has come under direct scrutiny.
Those present at this consequential meeting included President Obama, Vice President Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Yates and Rice.
Following the initial briefing, Obama asked Yates and Comey to “stay behind.” He told them he was aware of Flynn’s phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions. 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.”
Translated: They were discussing how to prevent the new administration from finding out they’d been spied on. Specifically, Obama did not want Flynn to find out what his administration had been up to.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway points out that Obama also provided “guidance about how to perpetuate the Russia collusion theory investigations” during the January 5 meeting.
Additionally, she says, “not only was information on Russia not fully shared with the incoming Trump team, as Obama directs, the leaks and ambushes made the transition chaotic, scared quality individuals away from working in the administration, made effective governance almost impossible, and materially damaged national security.”
What is most striking about the Obama Administration’s efforts to ensnare Flynn and other Trump associates were the impeccably timed leaks to the media. Either the reporters for The Washington Post were simply useful idiots or they were complicit in the campaign to bring down Flynn.
Several reporters have noted this phenomenon including Hemingway and Dan Bongino. In episode 1240 of Bongino’s daily podcast, he goes into depth about these occasions.
In an October 24, 2019 filing, Flynn’s lawyers allege that Col. James Baker, Director of the Office of Net Assessment at the Pentagon (ONA), leaked copies of the transcripts from Flynn’s December 2016 telephone calls to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to The Washington Post’s David Ignatius, with whom Baker had regularly scheduled lunches.
The filing also claims that then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called Ignatius on or before January 10, 2017, and said “words to the effect of ‘Take the kill shot on Flynn.’”
On January 12, 2017, Ignatius did indeed take the kill shot and published an article about Flynn’s phone calls with Kislyak.
(To my knowledge, it has not yet been proven that Baker leaked the transcripts. But whoever it was who did leak this material has committed a felony.)
Next, Bongino highlighted an article that had obviously been planted for political purposes. On January 23, 2017, the day before FBI agents arrived at the White House to interview Gen. Flynn, two Washington Post reporters, likely unwittingly, reprised their roles as useful idiots and performed an indispensable service. Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller wrote an article entitled “FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit.”
FBI agents knew the article would put Flynn at ease, making him more willing to speak with them. Flynn would be less apt to request a lawyer and likely wouldn’t request that the FBI go through the proper channels, the White House Counsel’s office, to set up an interview, Bongino explained.
Obviously, they were right, because when the agents arrived at the White House, they reported that Flynn had been relaxed and genial. He viewed them as his allies. He didn’t realize they had come for an ambush.
The deep state and the mainstream media have always had a symbiotic relationship, but it wasn’t until candidate Donald Trump came along that it became impossible to miss.
All of this is to say that the meeting which took place in the Oval Office on January 5, 2016 was pivotal. Since Rice’s peculiar email is one of the few documents available, it’s a starting point for investigators.
A source told Fox News that Senate Republicans are currently focusing on Rice’s email. Here are the relevant excerpts:
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.’
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.
The President 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.
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.
Graham spoke to Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro on Saturday and said that the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, will be holding a hearing on the FBI’s handling of the Flynn case in early June.
“What I’m trying to do is the Flynn case is over, at least I hope it will be over by the first week in June. So I can tell you tonight that we’re gonna have our first hearing the first week in June. It’s about the Flynn case, how it got so off the rails. My job is to bring oversight to the table, political accountability,” explained Graham.
He told Pirro he will ask Gen. Flynn to testify and “have Justice Department officials explain their decision to come out against the Flynn prosecution.”
He plans to call Sally Yates and James Clapper to testify. Graham said he would invite Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to speak but he “cannot compel his testimony.”
We’ll see if this hearing actually happens. Graham often talks a good game, but fails to follow through.
However, John Durham, who recently expanded his investigation to include more FBI agents and prosecutors, has added two U.S. attorneys, Jeff Jensen of the Eastern District of Missouri and Timothy Shea of the District of Columbia, to help him. I would bet his team is all over the January 5 meeting.