President Donald Trump hinted that Barack Obama and Joe Biden could soon be implicated for their alleged roles in the controversial Russia collusion investigation.
“There’s more to come from what I understand, and they’re going to be far greater than what you’ve seen so far, and what you’ve seen so far is incredible, especially as it relates to President Obama,” Trump said during an appearance Friday on Fox & Friends when discussing Obama’s role in the Russia probe.
“I believe he and Biden…Sleepy Joe was involved in this also, very much, and other people around President Obama were totally involved,” Trump said.
Below, in no particular order, are three publicly known connections between Biden and the Russia probe.
The associations could become problematic for the presumptive Democratic nominee as evidence continues to mount pointing to possible wrongdoing during the course of the Russia collusion case.
Trump’s comments about Biden and Obama come as the Justice Department this past week ended its case against Mike Flynn after internal FBI documents were released containing damning materials showing possible FBI misdeeds in the agency’s probe of Trump’s then-national security adviser.
Last week saw the release of a trove of 57 transcripts from witness interviews conducted by the House Intelligence Committee during its Russia probe in 2017 and 2018. One after the other, senior former Obama administration officials admitted in closed door testimony that they did not possess any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Yet the transcripts were kept classified throughout Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel’s slow moving probe into eventually discredited Russia collusion claims.
The past three weeks, numerous other key documents were declassified showing more evidence of possible offenses committed during the Russia investigation.
1 – Biden was present at a Russia collusion briefing documented in an “odd” Susan Rice email.
Biden was documented as being present in the Oval Office for a conversation about the controversial Russia probe between President Obama, disgraced ex-FBI chief James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and other senior officials including Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice.
In an action characterized as “odd” in 2018 by then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Rice memorialized the confab in an email to herself describing Obama as starting “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.’”
Grassley, in a letter to Rice, commented: “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 noted the unusual timing of the email sent by Rice to herself more than two weeks after the January 5, 2017 White House meeting on the Russia investigation, but mere hours before she vacated the White House for the incoming Trump administration.
The email, Grassley documented, was sent by Rice to herself on Trump’s inauguration day of January 20, 2017.
“If the timestamp is correct, you sent this email to yourself at 12:15 pm, presumably a very short time before you departed the White House for the last time,” Grassley wrote to Rice in a letter seeking clarification on a number of issues regarding the email and the Oval Office briefing at which Biden was documented as being present.
Also in the email, Rice used the “by the book” phraseology a second time, writing (emphasis added):
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.
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 next part of Rice’s email was classified.
After that, Rice discussed the possibility of issues with sharing classified information with the incoming Trump administration — presumably referring to alleged concern that the Trump campaign had been colluding with Russia.
That part of the email reads:
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.
The email was sent during the period Obama reportedly personally raised purported red flags to then-President-elect Trump about hiring Flynn during an Oval Office meeting two days after the election.
An attorney for Rice responded to Grassley’s letter saying Rice wrote the email to herself with the goal of “memorializ[ing] an important national security discussion,” since “President Obama and his national security team were justifiably concerned about potential risks to the Nation’s security from sharing highly classified information about Russia with certain members of the Trump transition team, particularly Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.”
The attorney’s previous admission that the conversation was about Flynn may raise immediate red flags now that Flynn’s case was dropped amid reports of possible wrongdoing by the FBI.
FBI notes show internal motivations on interviewing Flynn “to get him to lie” and “get him fired.” Fox News reported the smoking-gun notes were written by Bill Priestap, the FBI’s former head of counterintelligence, documenting conclusions from a meeting with Comey and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
“What is our goal?” one note reads. “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
The note discussed whether the FBI should get Flynn “to admit to breaking the Logan Act” during a conversation he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The Logan Act is an obscure law banning negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments in dispute with the U.S. It was only used twice to indict to Americans – once in 1802 and another in 1852. Neither case ended in a conviction.
Amid the questions about FBI conduct in the Flynn case, it may be instructive to recall evidence of underhanded FBI spy tactics against both Flynn and President Trump.
In February, Breitbart News first spotlighted a largely unreported section of an extensive Inspector General report revealing the FBI under Comey deceptively sent a senior member of the team investigating alleged Russian collusion to conduct an official briefing with Flynn and Trump.
Unbeknownst to both Trump and Flynn, that FBI investigator memorialized that briefing, which included exchanges with Flynn and Trump, in an official document that was added to the Crossfire Hurricane case file probing the Trump campaign over unsubstantiated and ultimately discredited charges of Russian collusion.
This means the FBI’s controversial Crossfire Hurricane probe team investigating members of the Trump campaign not only directly interfaced with Trump and Flynn without telling them but also recorded their comments in the official case file. Flynn at the time was already a target of the FBI probe.
Moreover, the FBI investigator who conducted the briefing says that he used the occasion as an opportunity to study Flynn’s behavior and mannerisms just in case the FBI needed to eventually conduct a subject interview of Flynn. Indeed, the same investigator himself was the FBI agent who conducted an in-person FBI interview with Flynn on January 24, 2017 in connection with the FBI’s investigation of Flynn.
2 – Biden was reportedly involved in the controversial early stages of the Russia collusion probe.
Biden was reportedly one of the few Obama administration officials who participated in secretive meetings during the early stages of the Obama-era intelligence community’s initial operations regarding suspected Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
That tidbit was contained deep inside a 7,700-plus word Washington Post article published June 23, 2017 in which the newspaper also detailed the highly compartmentalized nature of the original Russia interference investigation and the manner in which other U.S. intelligence agencies were deliberately kept in the dark. Part of the efforts eventually involved unsubstantiated and ultimately discredited charges made by the Christopher Steele dossier that Trump campaign officials were colluding with Russia.
The lengthy Washington Post article from 2017 detailed the closed circle of Obama administration officials who were involved in overseeing the initial efforts related to the Russia investigation — a circle than was narrowly widened to include Biden, according to the newspaper report.
According to the newspaper, in the summer of 2016, CIA Director John Brennan convened a “secret task force at CIA headquarters composed of several dozen analysts and officers from the CIA, the NSA and the FBI.”
The Post described the unit as so secretive it functioned as a “sealed compartment” hidden even from the rest of the U.S. intelligence community; a unit whose workers were all made to sign additional non-disclosure forms.
The unit reported to top officials, the newspaper documented:
They worked exclusively for two groups of “customers,” officials said. The first was Obama and fewer than 14 senior officials in government. The second was a team of operations specialists at the CIA, NSA and FBI who took direction from the task force on where to aim their subsequent efforts to collect more intelligence on Russia.
The number of Obama administration officials who were allowed access to the Russia intelligence was also highly limited, the Post reported. At first only four senior officials were involved, and not Biden. Those officials were CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then-FBI Director James Comey. Their aides were all barred from attending the initial meetings, the Post stated.
The circle of those who attended the secretive meetings on the matter soon widened to include Biden, the Post reported (emphasis added):
The secrecy extended into the White House.
Rice and White House homeland-security adviser Lisa Monaco convened meetings in the Situation Room to weigh the mounting evidence of Russian interference and generate options for how to respond. At first, only four senior security officials were allowed to attend: Brennan, Clapper, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and FBI Director James B. Comey. Aides ordinarily allowed entry as “plus-ones” were barred.
Gradually, the circle widened to include Vice President Biden and others. Agendas sent to Cabinet secretaries — including John F. Kerry at the State Department and Ashton B. Carter at the Pentagon — arrived in envelopes that subordinates were not supposed to open. Sometimes the agendas were withheld until participants had taken their seats in the Situation Room.
Adding another layer of secrecy, the newspaper reported that when the closed cabinet sessions on Russia began in the White House Situation Room in August, the video feed from the main room was cut off during the meetings.
The feed, which allows only for video and not audio, is usually kept on so that senior aides can see when a meeting takes place.
The paper reported:
The blacked-out screens were seen as an ominous sign among lower-level White House officials who were largely kept in the dark about the Russia deliberations even as they were tasked with generating options for retaliation against Moscow.
It was not clear what went on inside those meetings and how many of them included Biden’s participation. The meetings progressed during the period that the Steele dossier was reported to the FBI. They also took place during the period that the names of U.S. citizens were reportedly unmasked from intelligence intercepts.
3 – Biden’s national security adviser participated in secretive early Russia probe meetings.
Colin Kahl, who served as then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser, reportedly participated in the secretive and highly compartmentalized early principals’ meetings described above in #2.
The detail was contained in the March 2018 book Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, and David Corn, Washington bureau chief of Mother Jones.
In their book, Isikoff and Corn confirmed other mainstream media reports describing a small, tightly held unit of senior officials and experts handling the initial probe efforts.
By July 31, 2016, they note, “the FBI had formally opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump’s campaign’s ties to Russians, with sub-inquiries targeting four individuals” — Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.
Then-CIA Director John Brennan got together with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Chief Mike Rogers, they document, asking them “to dispatch to the CIA their experts to form a working group at Langley that would review the intelligence and figure out the full scope and nature of the Russian operation.”
In discussing how to respond to the information gathered, Isikoff and Corn write, the traditional interagency process of deputy chiefs meeting to formulize options for the heads of agencies — also referred to as principals — was bypassed for a more secretive route.
Usually, when the White House invited the deputies and principals to such meetings, they informed them of the subject at hand and provided “read ahead” memos outlining what was on the agenda. This time, the agency officials just received instructions to show up at the White House at a certain time. No reason given. No memos supplied. “We were only told that a meeting was scheduled and our principal or deputy was expected to attend,” recalled a senior administration official who participated in the sessions.
Also, they write that principals and deputies could not bring additional staffers, as is routine in other briefings.
Susan Rice chaired the principals meeting, which the authors write included Kahl, who served as Biden’s national security adviser from October 2014 to January 2017.
Kahl was present to inform Biden about what happened inside the meetings, they write:
Rice would chair the principals’ meetings — which brought together Brennan, Comey, Kerry, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — with only a few other White House officials present, including White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco, and Colin Kahl, Vice President Joe Biden’s national security adviser. (Kahl had to insist to Rice that he be allowed to attend so Biden could be kept up to speed.)
Kahl has drawn media attention for his frequent anti-Trump tweets and boasts on his Twitter profile that he is the “Likely Ops Chief” of the “Echo Chamber” — clearly a sarcastic reference to reports about a 2017 document titled “The Echo Chamber” that was purportedly circulated among Trump advisers listing former Obama administration officials accused of working to undermine the Trump administration.
In social media remarks that got little attention until a Breitbart News report, Kahl called for “purging or marginalizing the ‘Axis of Ideologues’ in the West Wing” in order to ensure what he described as “any hope of a sane foreign policy” during the Trump administration. Kahl took to Twitter to make those little noticed remarks on March 11, 2017, two months after he departed the White House along with the rest of the Obama administration for the incoming Trump team.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKlein