Tags: Michael Flynn | susanrice | jamescomey | email | declassified | nsc

Rice Email Out: Comey Talked Keeping Info From Flynn

susan rice speaks at a j street conference
Former Amb. Susan Rice (Michael Brochstein/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 19 May 2020 07:04 PM

Fired FBI Director James Comey told then-President Barack Obama the National Security Council might need to withhold information from incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn before he assumed his post.

This was revealed Tuesday as the redacted, classified portion of Susan Rice's "by the book" email she sent to herself on President Donald Trump's inauguration day has been obtained by multiple media sources.

Most of the email had already been declassified and made public, but Politico obtained the full version from the office of Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who sought it Monday night.

Here is what Tuesday's reveal showed for the first time:

"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.'"

Flynn was assuming the role of national security adviser from Rice, while the FBI was conducting an investigation into his contacts with Russian Amb. Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition.

The Obama administration Justice Department and FBI weighed pursing Gen. Flynn for violations of the Logan Act, a 200-year-old statute that was written to preclude American citizens from speaking on behalf of the U.S. government overseas. Legal expert Alan Dershowitz on Newsmax TV has called it an obsolete statute since the advent of telephones and said it has never been used in a criminal prosecution.

The FBI did indict Gen. Flynn on one count of lying to investigators about contacts with the Russian ambassador, to which he originally pleaded guilty.

But Flynn's new attorney Sidney Powell, who took over from a law firm that had ties to Democrats John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, had Flynn withdraw his plea and the Justice Department has announced it wants the case dropped.

Judge Emmet Sullivan has rejected dropping the case and appointed a court advocate, retired Judge John Gleeson, to pursue a perjury charge for lying to the court with his plea of guilty and then withdrawing it.

Powell filed a petition on behalf of Flynn on Tuesday to drop the case as requested by the DOJ, reject the appointment of Judge Gleeson, and assign a new judge to any future proceedings in the case.

But the Rice email revelations show a potential effort by the Obama administration holdovers to the Trump administration to withhold information from incoming officials. Such a move might not be illegal, but it would set a dangerous precedent of the "peaceful transition of power," if not be a violation of authority or abuse of power.

The fact Rice was presiding over potentially withholding of information to her successor looks dangerous, too. It has been speculated the withholding of information from Flynn might include the nature and scope of the Obama administration's investigation tactics in pursing its conspiracy theory of Russia collusion with the Trump campaign.

It has been revealed through declassified House Intelligence Committee investigation testimony from Rice, the origins of her skepticism of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn revolved around his concerns of China and having diminished the threat of Russia as "a declining power."

"We spent a lot more time talking about China in part because Gen. Flynn's focus was on China as our principal overarching adversary," Rice said in her Sept. 8, 2017 testimony. "He had many questions and concerns about China.

"And when I elicited – sought to elicit his perspective on Russia, he was quite – I started to say dismissive, but that may be an overstatement. He downplayed his assessment of Russia as a threat to the United States. He called it overblown. He said they're a declining power, they're demographically challenged, they're not really much of a threat, and then re-emphasized the importance of China.

"I had seen enough at that point and heard enough to be a little bit sensitive to the question of the nature of Gen. Flynn's engagements with the Russians," Rice concluded.

That testimony has been pointed to as the potential justification of "unmasking" Gen. Flynn's name from an intelligence intercept of a phone call with a Russia ambassador. The identity of American citizens are masked in intelligence intercepts of foreign officials.

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Fired FBI Director James Comey told then-President Barack Obama the National Security Council might need to withhold information from incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn before he assumed his post....
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Tuesday, 19 May 2020 07:04 PM
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