DOJ’s Flynn filings renew focus on mysterious Susan Rice email during transition

Moments ago Brooke Singman of Fox Digital tweeted:

Source tells me @senjudiciary investigators are now looking more closely at the@AmbassadorRice email–which @LindseyGrahamSC and @ChuckGrassley originally flagged in February 2018

Fox News reports Russia probe files released as part of the Justice Department’s move to drop its case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn are raising new questions about a mysterious Inauguration Day email sent by Flynn’s predecessor in the Obama administration, Susan Rice.

An exhibit in the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case last week detailed a special counsel interview of former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. The interview indicated outgoing President Barack Obama was aware of Flynn’s intercepted December 2016 phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition period.

The document noted Yates learned about the calls during a Jan 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with Obama, Rice, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

After the briefing, Obama asked Yates and Comey to “stay behind,” and said he had “learned of the information about Flynn” and his conversation with Russia’s ambassador about sanctions. Obama “specified that he did not want any additional information on the matter, but was seeking information on whether the White House should be treating Flynn any differently, given the information.”

At that point, the document said, “Yates had no idea what the president was talking about, but figured it out based on the conversation. Yates recalled Comey mentioning the Logan Act, but can’t recall if he specified there was an ‘investigation.’ Comey did not talk about prosecution in the meeting.”

This would eventually lead to Flynn being interviewed, amid supposed concern he had violated the obscure and never-successfully-enforced Logan Act, and later pleading guilty to lying to investigators about his Kislyak talks.

But the mention of that Oval Office meeting aligns with an email that Rice — on Jan. 20, 2017, the day President Trump was sworn into office — sent herself documenting Obama’s guidance, evidently in the same meeting, about how law enforcement should investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race.

Rice’s office downplayed the significance of that email when it first surfaced in early 2018, raising questions at the time from congressional Republicans.

A source close to the Senate Judiciary Committee told Fox News on Monday that GOP Senate investigators are now taking a closer look at that email.

The message was first flagged in 2018 by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who now sits as chairman of the panel. The email was partially unclassified and appeared to detail that same Jan. 5, 2017, meeting, also said to include former Vice President Joe Biden.

“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.”

The email also appeared to reflect Obama’s guidance on sharing sensitive information with both the Russians and the incoming Trump administration.

Rice wrote that 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.”

She added: “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.”

At the time of discovery, Graham described Rice’s email as “disturbing.”

“She’s sending herself an email talking about a conversation on Jan. 5 with the president, reassuring herself, and I guess the president, that this would be done by the book,” Graham told Fox News in February 2018. “I think that’s odd and disturbing because we know the investigation regarding the Trump campaign was anything but by the book.”

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