An email from former President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice to herself that was fully declassified on Tuesday shows that former FBI Director James Comey raised concerns about sharing “sensitive information” with Michael Flynn.
Parts of the email, dated January 20, 2017, showed that Obama administration officials discussed law enforcement’s handling of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections during a White House meeting on January 5, 2017.
Additionally, they discussed whether or not they should withhold information from Flynn, who was slated to become President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.
“Director Comey affirmed that he is processing ‘by the book’ as it relates to law enforcement. From a national security perspective, Comey said he does have some concerns that incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian ambassador Kislyak. Comey said that could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive information,” Rice wrote.
She added, “President Obama asked if Comey was saying that the NSC should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn. Comey replied ‘potentially.’ He added that he has no indication that Flynn has passed classified information to Kislyak, but he noted that ‘the level of communication is unusual.'”
Read the email below:
Republicans, who were aware of the email as early as 2018, have been eying the memo which they found “unusual” as Rice apparently sent it to her self on the day Trump was inaugurated.
However, the portion referencing Comey’s concerns about sharing sensitive information with Flynn had been classified until now.
“On January 5, following a briefing by IC [intelligence community] leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election, President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office. Vice President Biden and I were also present,” Rice wrote in the portion that had previously been disclosed.
“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,” she added.
In a 2018 letter to Rice, Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, “It strikes us as odd that, among your activities in the final moments on the final day of the Obama administration, you would feel the need to send yourself such an unusual email purporting to document a conversation involving President Obama and his interactions with the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia investigation.”
They added, “Substantial questions have arisen about whether officials at the FBI, as well as at the Justice Department and the State Department, actually did proceed ‘by the book.'”
The declassification of the email comes as Republicans have given renewed attention to their skepticism of the origins of the Russia investigation. Graham has vowed to investigate “all things related” to the Russia investigation — including the prosecution of Flynn, as IJR reported.
Additionally, it comes days after Grenell declassified a list of Obama administration officials who received unmasking information regarding Flynn’s contacts with the then-Russian ambassador, as IJR reported.