Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s depiction of an early 2017 Oval Office meeting of top political and law-enforcement officials as being conducted “by the book,” is being challenged by newly released notes written by former FBI agent Peter Strzok, which directly implicate Joe Biden — the current Democratic presidential nominee — in a scheme to undermine President Trump and his administration.
The newly released notes may have far-reaching consequences for the upcoming 2020 elections and Biden, as the current Democratic presidential nominee, specifically. The bombshell revelations will, no doubt, be a major focus in the ongoing investigation, led by US Attorney John Durham, into the origins of the Russia investigation.
On January 5, 2017, a meeting took place at the White House’s Oval Office with then-President Barack Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice all in attendance.
The notes produced by former FBI agent Peter Strzok described officials in the Oval Office discussing transcripts of the private calls, intercepted by the US intelligence community, of retired US Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn conversing with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, as well as how to proceed against Flynn.
Strozk’s notes indicate that Biden personally raised the idea of using a fraudulent pretext to investigate the incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn, in order to undermine him and the incoming Trump administration.
Around the time of the Oval Office meeting, a previously released document dated January 4, 2017, showed that the FBI had moved to end its investigation into whether Flynn was a Russian agent for lack of any evidence, until Strzok intervened to keep the case open.
The same document shows Strzok told an unknown individual that same day that the “7th floor [is] involved,” apparently referring to senior FBI leadership at the bureau’s headquarters.
Strzok also notes that Comey told the other meeting officials that the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls appear “legit” [“legitimate”], indicating that the meeting’s objective was to find a pretext to undermine Flynn and the Trump administration.
That pretext was provided by none other than Joe Biden.
According to Strzok’s notes, Biden referenced the Logan Act, an obscure law banning negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments in disputes with the U.S.
The act was only used twice to indict Americans – once in 1802 and again in 1852 – with neither ending in a conviction.
Flynn’s attorney, Sidney Powell, writing in the Justice Department’s dismissal motion of Flynn’s case, concurred that Biden had personally raised the idea of the Logan Act, “which became an admitted pretext for the investigation against Flynn.”
Biden was aware that there was no valid basis for using the Logan Act, as Comey had already described the phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak as legitimate.
“The right people”
With Biden’s use of the Logan Act as a pretext, Obama personally directed “the right people” to investigate Flynn, according to Strzok’s notes.
It would, indeed, take “the right people,” who shared Obama’s belief that the times were “unusual,” in order to carry out such a move.
As previously reported on Breitbart news, smoking-gun notes– written by the assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, Bill Priestap, only hours before Comey sent two agents on an ambush interview to the White House to interview Flynn– showed the top echelons at the FBI discussing whether the aim of the interview was to compel Flynn to admit to a violation of the Logan Act (the pretext Biden introduced) or push Flynn to lie so that he could be prosecuted or fired.
In an interview with NBC’s Nicole Wallace, Comey would later boast of abusing formal protocol to question Flynn in the White House admitting that it was “something I probably wouldn’t have done or gotten away with in a more organized investigation, a more organized administration.”
Notes from Strzok and an additional FBI agent, Joe Pientka, show that neither believed Flynn lied during their interview with him.
Regardless, the special counsel charged Flynn with lying to the agents and Flynn pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal. However, he later withdrew his guilty plea with the DOJ dismissing the case last week following the discovery of exculpatory evidence that was being withheld, including Strzok’s note.
Hours before vacating the White House for the incoming Trump administration and more than two weeks after the January 5, 2017, White House meeting, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice sent herself an email memorializing the Oval Office meeting.
Rice’s account of what transpired was radically different from Strzok’s, contradicting major aspects of his notes memorializing the same meeting.
Rice documents Obama instructing and emphasising that the investigation be conducted “by the book” and not in any way involve himself in the matter, whereas Strzok’s notes describe Obama’s direct involvement in the investigation as he ordered “the right people” to investigate Flynn, stating that “these are unusual times.”
Rice’s notes make no mention of Biden or the Logan Act, whereas Strzok’s notes detail Biden directly involved in the investigation.
Rice notes Comey’s concern with the frequency of calls between Flynn and Kislyak, and not the substance of those calls. Strzok’s notes, in contrast, record Comey as describing the calls between Flynn and Kislyak as legitimate.
Rice’s notes document Obama and Comey saying — three separate times — they are proceeding “by the book” regarding the investigation, while Strzok’s notes make no mention of such terminology.
Rice also notes that Comey was concerned with sharing sensitive information with Flynn, as she documents Obama asking Comey if that meant the NSC (National Security Council) should not share sensitive information with Flynn relating to Russia. Comey responded “potentially.” Strzok’s notes make no mention of this back and forth.
Rice notes Obama asked Comey to update him if matters that would affect the sharing of classified information ever change, with Comey agreeing to do so.
Again, Strzok’s notes make no mention of such an exchange.
Rice wrote (emphasis added):
“President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue [the investigation] is handled by the intelligence and law enforcement communities“by the book.”
The President stressed that he is not asking about, intimating 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.
Rice said Obama wanted to be sure there was no reason they couldn’t “share any information fully as it related to Russia” with the new administration.
The following section of Rice’s memorandum was redacted and recently declassified:
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 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. Comey replied ‘potentially.’ He added that he has no indication thus far that Flynn has passed classified information to Kislyak, but he noted that “the level of communication is unusual.”
In the concluding paragraph, which was not previously redacted, Obama asks Comey to update him “if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team,” with Comey agreeing to do so.
Unusual timing of Rice email questioned
Last year then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, in a letter to Rice seeking clarification on a number of issues regarding her email and the Oval Office briefing at which Biden was documented as being present, 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 was noting 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.
“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.
Grassley on the Flynn investigation: What did Obama and Biden know and when did they know it?
In prepared floor remarks by Grassley (R-Iowa) released last week, he raised serious suspicions regarding the discrepancy in accounts and the implications of such, stating that the new notes “raise legitimate questions.”
Grassley questioned whether Obama and Biden deliberately took steps in the final hours of their administration to undermine the incoming administration. “It sure looks like they did,” he concluded.
Grassley then noted how the incoming Trump administration was unaware of the fact that Obama, Biden, Comey, and Strzok were busy setting the stage for what would become a multi-year struggle against the notion that they colluded with the Russian government.
“So much for a peaceful transition of power,” he remarked.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.