On the very last day President Barack Obama was in office (January 20, 2017), National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent herself an email purportedly recording a January 5 meeting with the president and other key staff members. In that email, she displayed a hesitance to share information on Russia with the incoming Trump team, and insisted that every aspect of the Russia issue would be carried out “by the book.”
Methinks the lady doth protest too much.
“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,” Rice wrote. “He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”
Obama reportedly made these remarks in the context of a January 5 meeting, “following a briefing by IC leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election.” The meeting included FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Vice President Joe Biden, and Rice herself, according to the email.
Sen.s Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released the email Monday as part of a letter they sent to Rice on February 8.
“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,” Grassley and Graham wrote in their letter to Rice.
“In addition, despite your claim that President Obama repeatedly told Mr. Comey to proceed ‘by the book,’ 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 senators added.
The timing of Rice’s letter suggests she was attempting to cover up something or to explain away inappropriate actions which were not “by the book.” As more evidence comes out surrounding the FBI’s use of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign in the Steele Dossier to acquire a Foreign Intelligence Service Act (FISA) warrant to snoop on members of the Trump campaign in the last month of the 2016 election, this email seems especially damning.
Rice’s protestations that the Intelligence Community (IC) remained “by the book” smack of desperation in the very last moments she herself spent in the White House.
Furthermore, Rice’s email may also have revealed the beginnings of the Obama “deep state” operation.
“From a national security perspective, however, President Obama said he 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 former National Security advisor wrote. “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.”
Were Obama administration officials hesitant to share classified information with the next president and his team? Does this email reveal the very beginning of an inside effort to undermine the incoming Trump administration?
Last year, Evelyn Farkas, Obama’s former assistant deputy secretary of defense, suggested a rush to release intelligence before the Trump administration could understand how they got it. “I was urging my former colleagues and — and frankly speaking, the people on the Hill, it was more actually aimed — aimed at telling the Hill people, ‘Get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration.’ Because, I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people who left,” she told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski.
“So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy that the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their, the Trump staff’s dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more,” Farkas added.
Finally, Rice’s email suggested that Obama wanted to remain “by the book” on the Trump-Russia case. A newly revealed text message from FBI lawyer Lisa Page to her lover FBI agent Peter Strzok suggested that Obama personally wanted to “know everything we’re doing,” one month before the FISA request to spy on members of the Trump campaign was granted.
If Obama was personally informed — and perhaps even involved — in the FISA request, then he certainly wasn’t acting “by the book,” and Rice’s need to clear her name and Obama’s by drafting this email comes into focus.