By Sean Davis and Mollie Hemingway - JUNE 24, 2020
Newly released notes confirm President Barack Obama’s key role in surveillance and leak operation against Michael Flynn, the incoming Trump administration national security adviser. The handwritten notes, which were first disclosed in a federal court filing made by the Department of Justice on Tuesday, show President Obama himself personally directed former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to investigate Flynn for having routine phone calls with a Russian counterpart. He also suggests they withhold information from President Trump and his key national security figures.
The handwritten notes from fired former FBI agent Peter Strzok appear to describe a Jan. 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting between Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Comey, Yates, and then-national security adviser Susan Rice. The meeting and its substance were confirmed in a bizarre Inauguration Day email Rice wrote to herself.
It was at this meeting, which was confirmed by testimony from Comey and Yates, that Obama gave guidance to key officials who would be tasked with protecting his administration’s utilization of secretly funded Clinton campaign research, which alleged Trump was involved in a treasonous plot to collude with Russia, from being discovered or stopped by the incoming administration.
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Yates told the special counsel that Obama broke the news of Flynn’s phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to her during the Jan. 5 meeting. Yates detailed further involvement from Obama. “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,” she wrote in her email.
The new notes, which record Comey’s accounting to Strzok of the meeting’s substance, constitute definitive evidence that Obama himself was personally directing significant aspects of a criminal investigation into his political enemy’s top foreign policy adviser. An image of the notes is reproduced below. This is a rough transcript of the unredacted portion of the notes:
D-DAG: lean forward on [unclass?]
VP: “Logan Act”
P: These are unusual times
VP: I’ve been on the intel cmte for ten years and I never
P: Make sure you look at things + have the right people on it
P: Is there anything I shouldn’t be telling transition team?
D: Flynn –> Kislyak calls but appear legit
[illegible] Happy New Year. Yeah right
“Make sure you look at things and have the right people on it,” Obama is quoted as saying.
Comey’s description that the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls appear “legit,” shorthand for “legitimate,” is also in the notes. Until this week, this exculpatory information was withheld from Flynn and his defense team, multiple congressional committees, and the American public. A lengthy campaign to illegally leak selectively edited defamatory information through media accessories damaged the Trump administration and spurred the appointment of a special counsel to investigate anyone associated with the Trump campaign.
According to Strzok’s notes, Biden explicitly referenced the Logan Act, an 18th-century law that forbids certain political speech from private citizens. The law, even if it were constitutional, would not apply to a national security adviser for the newly elected president of the United States. Biden had previously denied that he knew anything about the investigation into Flynn.
“I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,” Biden said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” when George Stephanopoulos asked what he knew of the FBI’s operations in early 2017. He later admitted that statement was false.
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