What did Barack Obama know and when did he know it? That’s the key question that must be answered with regard to Obamagate. So far, there is plenty of evidence that suggests Obama was very much aware of the FBI’s efforts to spy on the Trump campaign and railroad Lt. General Michael Flynn (Ret.).
Text messages between former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and his former mistress, Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer, show that Strzok and then-FBI Assistant Director William Priestap were concerned about sharing sensitive evidence with the departing Obama White House.
“[Priestap], like us, is concerned with over sharing,” Strzok told Page in a text dated January 3, 2017. “Doesn’t want Clapper giving CR cuts to WH. All political, just shows our hand and potentially makes enemies.”
Strzok was referring to evidence of the investigation into Mike Flynn.
“Yeah, but keep in mind we were going to put that in the doc on Friday, with potentially larger distribution than just the DNI,” Page replied.
“The question is should we, particularly to the entirety of the lame duck usic [U.S Intelligence Community] with partisan axes to grind,” Strzok rebutted.
Barack Obama fired Flynn as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency in April 2014, because Flynn’s opposition to the Iran nuclear deal threatened the deal coming to fruition.
Other texts from the same day show Strzok and Page discussing some apparent drama involving one of Obama’s presidential daily briefings (PDB). These text messages were not released by the FBI but were made available to John Solomon back in September 2018. Solomon reports that investigators are “trying to determine whether Obama’s well-known disdain for Flynn, a career military intelligence officer, influenced the decision by the FBI leadership to reject its own agent’s recommendation to shut down a probe of Flynn in January 2017 and instead pursue an interview where agents might catch him in a lie.”
Solomon also says the investigators are trying to determine if the aforementioned PDB involved Flynn, and if perhaps evidence revealing Flynn was neither a counterintelligence threat nor a criminal threat was in it.
“The evidence connecting President Obama to the Flynn operation is getting stronger,” one investigator told John Solomon. “The bureau knew it did not have evidence to justify that Flynn was either a criminal or counterintelligence threat and should have shut the case down. But the perception that Obama and his team would not be happy with that outcome may have driven the FBI to keep the probe open without justification and to pivot to an interview that left some agents worried involved entrapment or a perjury trap.”
Evidence declassified by acting-DNI Richard Grenell showed that 39 Obama administration officials sought to unmask Flynn’s name in various intelligence documents between Election Day 2016 and Inauguration Day 2017. Attorney General Barr has noted that there was never anything improper about an incoming national security adviser communicating with foreign ambassadors. There was also never any empirical evidence that the Trump campaign ever colluded with Russia, and the entire investigation began under false pretenses.
Recent evidence suggests that Flynn’s name may not have been masked on the intelligence report regarding his December 29 call with then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, meaning that Barack Obama may have used 50 U.S. Code § 1802 to authorize electronic surveillance of Flynn without a court order.
Flynn was not an initial target of Operation Crossfire Hurricane. The declassified July 31, 2016, memo that launched the entire investigation revealed that the operation was not based on any evidence of wrongdoing by members of the Trump campaign, but on “a third-hand ‘suggestion’ of wrongdoing and the thinnest of suspicions that illegal foreign lobbying had occurred.” According to the memo, the investigation was justified by suspected violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, but the memo does not cite not a single incident showing the law was violated.
Other text messages between Strzok and Page clearly indicated that the entire operation was politically motivated. “I want to believe the path you threw out in [former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s] office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take the risk,” Strzok texted Page on August 15, 2016. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Less than a month later, on September 2, 2016, Page told Stzrok, “POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing,” regarding the Russian collusion investigation.
Two days after Trump was elected, Trump met with Obama at the White House. During this meeting, Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn as an advisor.
On January 4, the lead agent in the Flynn probe, called Operation Crossfire Razor, recommended closing the case because of a lack of evidence. Strzok then asked the agent via text message to stop the closing memo because Comey’s office was now involved. The following day was the infamous Oval Office meeting where deputy Attorney General Sally Yates learned about the Flynn wiretapping directly from Obama, and that the Department of Justice was not briefed on this.
“We need to determine what motivated the FBI on Jan. 4, 2017 to overrule its own agent who believed Flynn was innocent and the probe should be closed,” one investigator said to John Solomon.
Could Barack Obama’s ill will towards Flynn have been the reason the investigation was not shut down? Obama was aware of the investigation, and was likely aware that the evidence against Flynn was nonexistent. How else does such a thing press forward unless the president of the United States insisted it continue?
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis