Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said during an interview Tuesday on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily that 2020 Democrat candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden should answer what he knew about the plot to set up then-incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“It’s appropriate to question not only the president but Joe Biden,” Blackburn told Breitbart News Daily host Alex Marlow.
Joe Biden was in the January 5 meeting, so both Obama and Biden — when did they know things, how involved were they, and what actions did they take? What instructions did they give? How did they collaborate on this? Who was briefing them, and who was the individual they were instructing on ways forward? When you have Sally Yates saying she found out about this from the president, then the president was more than casually involved.
Blackburn was referencing a January 5, 2017, meeting with then-President Obama, Biden, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice, as well as then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and others.
During that meeting, Obama informed Yates of intercepted calls between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak, according to testimony Yates gave to the special counsel team in August 2017 and testimony Comey gave to Congress in March 2017.
Yates recalls being surprised and not knowing what Obama was talking about at first but figuring it out based on what he said. She said she later got a briefing on the calls from Comey and Mary McCord, then-Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.
Obama’s knowledge of the calls showed that he and Biden were at least aware of the details of an ongoing investigation into a political campaign and incoming administration and perhaps actively involved.
At that time, the FBI was investigating Flynn for a potential Logan Act violation for his calls with Kislyak, where he discussed sanctions enacted by the Obama administration. The Logan Act is an obscure law from 1799 that has never been prosecuted that prohibits private citizens from engaging in diplomacy with another country. Flynn was incoming national security adviser at the time and was talking to multiple counterparts.
The Justice Department (DOJ) recently moved to drop the case against Flynn, releasing documents and transcripts that showed that FBI agents debated whether their goal was to get Flynn to admit to a Logan Act violation or to try to get him to lie so that he could be prosecuted or fired. Following the interview with Flynn, FBI agents said they did not think he was lying to them, but special counsel prosecutors charged him with one count of lying to investigators. Flynn first pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal but later withdrew that guilty plea, citing pressure from prosecutors.
The DOJ argued that the question of whether he had lied was not material, or related to, the FBI’s investigation of whether Flynn was a Russian agent — which was the rationale behind the FBI opening its investigation in the first place. Documents also showed that the FBI did not find any evidence suggesting that Flynn was a Russian agent and was moving to close its investigation on Flynn until then-FBI agent Peter Strzok intervened and kept it open on the basis of the calls and potential Logan Act violation.
Strzok intervened to keep the case open on January 4, 2017. The White House meeting with Obama and Biden occurred the next day.