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Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell declassified a Jan. 20, 2017, email that former national security advisor Susan Rice wrote to herself recapping an Oval Office meeting two weeks earlier with outgoing President Barack Obama.
In the email, Rice wrote that former FBI Director James Comey suggested to Obama the National Security Council may not want to pass “sensitive information related to Russia” to then-incoming national security adviser Mike Flynn.
The declassified memo doesn’t “jive” with a three-year-old PBS News Hour interview that has surfaced — it seems the woman who repeatedly misled the country about the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi being over a video did a lot misleading.
In the April 2017 appearance, Rice was asked about reports at the time that members of President Trump’s transition team had been surveilled before he took office.
“In the last few hours, we’ve been following a disclosure by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, that in essence, during the final days of the Obama administration, during the transition after President Trump had been elected, that he and the people around him may have been caught up in surveillance of foreign individuals and their identities may have been disclosed. Do you know anything about this?” PBS anchor Judy Woodruff asked.
“I know nothing about this,” Rice responded. “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”
She also perpetuated the notion of “incidental collection” of information on American citizens, which was suggested early on in regard to Flynn’s phone call to the Russian ambassador — as if Flynn himself was not the target.
“That means that the target was either a foreign entity or somebody under criminal investigation and that the Americans who were talking to those targets may have been picked up,” she said.
However, Rice’s email to herself indicates that she had knowledge of the surveillance of Flynn’s communications with the then-Russian ambassador.
A portion of Rice’s Jan. 20 email is seen here:
“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,’” Rice emailed to herself. “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.”
“Director Comey affirmed that he is proceeding “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 [Sergey] Kislyak. Comey said that could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive information. President Obama asked if Comey was saying that the NSC should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn.”
#FLYNN Declassified Rice email first obtained @CBSNews "President Obama asked if Comey was saying that the NSC should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn. Comey replied "potentially” and noted "the level of communication (w/Russian Ambassador) is unusual." https://t.co/fVFHsW7BWb
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) May 19, 2020
Rice did say in a statement that the email makes clear that the Obama Administration did not change the way it briefed Flynn, but former Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland disputes that assertion.
In an appearance on “Fox News @ Night,” McFarland said, “there are a lot of pieces in the puzzle and they’re all starting to come together.”
“There are more pieces that will be declassified this week and next week and you will have a bigger picture of what it is,” she said. “But, on its face, none of these things really jive or make sense.”
She proceeded to make three critical points, the first being about the email Rice wrote to herself saying Comey said Flynn had done nothing yet to pass classified information to the Russians, but that he may in the future.
“They know that he was not doing it because they were listening in on all of his phone calls,” McFarland said. “That’s what all of the unmaskings were about.”
“The second thing is that when Susan Rice writes the memo to herself — I mean, I was in that job. What an odd thing to do,” she said. “Why would you write a memorandum to the record for yourself unless you assumed that somebody was going to come and look for those clues? That somebody was potentially going to come after the fact and see that they had done something wrong, so she was trying to make sure everything was done by the books.
The third point centered on Rice saying Obama asked if there was any reason they shouldn’t bring the incoming Trump administration in on what was happening with Russia.
McFarland disputed the notion that this decision was just being considered.
“I know three weeks before General Flynn and I were in Susan Rice’s office for the handover briefing, and every other topic was mentioned — North Korea, China, ISIS, all of the other issues that were on the table, but they did not mention anything about Russia,” she said.
“So none of it really jives unless you look at it from the perspective of they knew they had done something wrong, and they were trying to cover their tracks,” McFarland concluded.
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