At the request of Attorney General William Barr and acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, new information was declassified Tuesday that sheds light new on James Comey’s role in “Obamagate.”
The Washington Examiner reported that the former FBI chief had “concerns” in 2017 about sharing information related to Russia with Michael Flynn — and considered withholding info from the Trump official, according to a newly-unredacted portion of an email authored by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Docs expose Comey’s role
According to the Examiner, Flynn was interviewed by the FBI just days into the Trump presidency about his conversations with a Russian ambassador, Sergei Kisylak, during the presidential transition.
During its final weeks, the Obama administration was watching Flynn closely because of those conversations, and on Jan. 5, 2017, there were high-level discussions on the topic between Obama and senior officials — including Rice and Comey — in at the Oval Office. The meeting has been widely scrutinized thanks in part to an email that Rice sent herself memorializing what was discussed.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Barr and top spy Grenell satisfied a request from Republicans to fully declassify the email — an action that revealed Comey had “concerns” about Flynn that convinced him it might be necessary to deceive the incoming Trump official. The former FBI chief told Obama that Flynn, who was then looking forward to assuming the role of Trump’s first national security adviser, should “potentially” be left in the dark about “sensitive information” related to Russia, according to Rice.
“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, according to the Examiner. “President Obama asked if Comey was saying that the NSC should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn. Comey replied ‘potentially.'”
Previously declassified portions of the Rice email showed that Obama wanted to “ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia” and that Comey agreed when Obama “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,” Fox News reported.
“Obamagate” suspicions intensify
The Department of Justice recently moved to drop its case against Flynn for lying to investigators about his conversations with the ambassador, arguing that his FBI interview was not predicated on a proper investigatory purpose, according to Politico.
New evidence about the strange circumstances of that interview — including handwritten notes from former FBI counterintelligence head Bill Priestap in which he mused about whether to “get [Flynn] to lie” — and details about the outgoing administration’s desire to monitor Flynn have driven speculation of a deeper plot to entrap him and derail the Trump presidency.
Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates recalled to Robert Mueller that she learned about Flynn’s phone calls for the first time at the aforementioned Oval Office meeting, the New York Post reported, and that Obama asked Yates and Comey to “stay behind” after other attendees were dismissed from the meeting, information that has raised speculation about Obama’s direct involvement in the scheme to take down Flynn and harm the incoming administration.
Rice asserted through a spokesperson on Tuesday that “the Obama Administration had legitimate counter-intelligence concerns about National Security Advisor-designate Flynn’s communications with Russia,” the Washington Examiner notes.
Could it be that the Obama-era dominoes are finally starting to fall?