The January 5, 2017 Obama WH Meeting And The Susan Rice Memo To Self

On January 5th, 2017  President Barack Obama and VP Biden met with, FBI Director James Comey,  Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Susan Rice regarding Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.  According to the documents that were part of the DOJ brief about dropping the Michael Flynn charges, at this meeting Sally Yates “learned of the information about Flynn” and his conversation with Russia’s ambassador about sanctions. Not mentioned in the document was Susan Rice’s “cover her ass” memo to herself about that meeting, written on inauguration day, claiming that every direction given that day was “by the book.” Susan Rice memo to herself

Fifteen minutes after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States Susan Rice, who had just become the former National Security Adviser sent out her last email using her official White House email account.  It was a strange email, about a meeting fifteen days before. The meeting was about Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election.

The strange part of the email was that its purpose seemed to be to get on the record that the Obama administration did nothing wrong in the Russia investigation. She noted repeatedly how Obama emphasized during the meeting on Russian that he wanted every aspect of the issue handled “by the book.”

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“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.  He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

After a section that remains classified, Rice wrote that Obama discussed sharing the information with the incoming Trump administration.

“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.”

One could almost see Ms. Rice doing an exaggerated wink while sending this email.

Why would she write an email about the Jan. 5th meeting on Jan 20th, on Inauguration Day, during her last moments as a federal employee? Why the emphasis on “by the book?” To quote Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much.” Why was Obama was concerned that there might be reasons why certain classified information would need to be withheld from Team Trump?

It seems as if she is trying to rewrite history and that maybe something happened during those 15 days that moved Rice to write that email to herself.

Susan Rice memo to herself

The Senators sent Rice a letter demanding answers. It said in part:

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.  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.”
In order for the Committee to further assess the situation, please respond to the following by February 22, 2018:
    1. Did you send the email attached to this letter to yourself?  Do you have any reason to dispute the timestamp of the email?
  1. When did you first become aware of the FBI’s investigation into allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia?
  1. When did you become aware of any surveillance activities, including FISA applications, undertaken by the FBI in conducting that investigation?  At the time you wrote this email to yourself, were you aware of either the October 2016 FISA application for surveillance of Carter Page or the January 2017 renewal?
  1. Did anyone instruct, request, suggest, or imply that you should send yourself the aforementioned Inauguration Day email memorializing President Obama’s meeting with Mr. Comey about the Trump/Russia investigation?  If so, who and why?
  1. Is the account of the January 5, 2017 meeting presented in your email accurate?  Did you omit any other portions of the conversation?
  1. Other than that email, did you document the January 5, 2017 meeting in any way, such as contemporaneous notes or a formal memo?  To the best of your knowledge, did anyone else at that meeting take notes or otherwise memorialize the meeting?
  1. During the meeting, did Mr. Comey or Ms. Yates mention potential press coverage of the Steele dossier?  If so, what did they say?
  1. During the meeting, did Mr. Comey describe the status of the FBI’s relationship with Mr. Steele, or the basis for that status?
  1. When and how did you first become aware of the allegations made by Christopher Steele?
  1. When and how did you first become aware that the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded Mr. Steele’s efforts?
  1. You wrote that President Obama stressed that he was “not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective.”  Did President Obama ask about, initiate, or instruct anything from any other perspective relating to the FBI’s investigation?
  1. Did President Obama have any other meetings with Mr. Comey, Ms. Yates, or other government officials about the FBI’s investigation of allegations of collusion between Trump associates and Russia?  If so, when did these occur, who participated, and what was discussed?

Everything about the Russia investigation as it relates to the Obama administration seems strange and seems to be getting stranger every day. Perhaps there was nothing nefarious about Rice sending an email to herself to get into the national record that everything was done “by the book,” On the other hand, it seems as if she is trying to rewrite history and perhaps something happened during those 15 days that moved Rice to write that email to herself. Like so much else about the Obama administration’s handling of the Russia investigation, especially in the context of the recent releases about the Michael Flynn investigation,  it sure smells rotten.

Cross-posted with The Lid


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