Acting DNI Richard Grenell declassified the hidden paragraph of the Susan Rice memo and it was released earlier today. Our suspicions about the content of the redacted paragraph being Michael Flynn connected are confirmed.
On January 5, 2017, President Obama and Susan Rice were discussing incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn with FBI Director James Comey. The motive for Susan Rice to write the January 20, 2017, memo to file becomes clear. Here’s the paragraph:
Within this paragraph we find the motive for writing it (emphasis mine):
“Director Comey affirmed that he is proceeding “by the book” as it relates to law enforcement.” … “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 senssitive 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.”
Remember, the position of President Obama and Susan Rice is that they were unaware of any FBI investigation of Flynn (or the Trump campaign); nor did they have any involvement in directing it to take place.
The content of this January 5th meeting makes the first part of their claim challenging to accept. Thus the need for Susan Rice to cover for it.
Here’s the full memo in context (including the redacted paragraph):
A day or two prior to this meeting DNI James Clapper briefed President Obama on the nature of the call between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Michael Flynn.
James Clapper received raw “intelligence cuts” about the call from FBI Director James Comey and used them to brief President Obama.
It gets very sticky for the Obama white house to claim they didn’t know about, nor direct, an FBI investigation of Michael Flynn given the fact they were briefed on the intercepted phone communications conveyed by the FBI, via Clapper, to President Obama.
If the FBI wasn’t investigating Flynn, then why were they intercepting his calls?
Understandably President Obama and NSA Susan Rice would be worried about being attached to a potentially very unlawful investigation of the incoming administration and NSA Michael Flynn; hence the ‘stay behind’ meeting.
As a result of prior briefing material President Obama knew the FBI was monitoring and intercepting Flynn’s communication. The aspect of Obama questioning Comey about sharing sensitive information from Flynn; and Comey’s response; points to Obama/Rice knowledge of an FBI operation against Flynn. An FBI operation against Flynn (and Trump) that Susan Rice knows she needs to specifically claim she and Obama did not know about.
From a hindsight perspective it gets very sticky for Obama/Rice to deny knowledge with that 1/5/17 meeting content in the fray. That’s the purpose of the Jan 20th CYA memo to file. Think about it:
Question: Ms Rice how can you claim to have no knowledge of an FBI investigation when the FBI was providing the White House FBI with intercepts of Flynn communication?
Are you saying the FBI intercepts were not authorized by President Obama?
Rice’s CYA memo is attempting to say exactly that. She’s pinning FBI Director James Comey as “rogue.”
Without the memo FBI Director James Comey could claim President Obama and Susan Rice were well aware of the FBI’s Flynn operation. With the memo Obama/Rice position themselves as having no idea until Comey started talking…
That’s the purpose for the memo; Obama & Rice protecting themselves from Comey if things go sideways.
To further illustrate this intent, it’s worth remembering the letter from Susan Rice’s lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler to the Senate:
Note the second to last paragraph, it’s all about denying knowledge of FBI operations, writ large, against the Trump campaign or incoming administration.
When James Clapper walked directly into the White House with “intelligence cuts” specifically from the FBI to share with President Obama, it’s likely the legal team around Obama -specifically including Kathryn Reummler- went bananas.
James Clapper was always a doofus, but usefully so. However, in this context doofus Clapper -with his FBI cuts in hand- just infected the White House with direct knowledge of an ongoing FBI investigation of the incoming administration. In that briefing Clapper just walked over their carefully assembled plausible deniability like an ox in the oval. D’oh.
The ‘pull aside’ meeting immediately thereafter, January 5th, was Obama and Susan Rice cleaning up the mess and reassembling their plausible deniability.
The January 20th Susan Rice memo-to-file was supportive material for that intention.
Lastly, it does not go unnoticed the purpose for the original redaction. The DOJ/FBI and intelligence administrators were trying to keep James Comey protected; and maintain the offensive effort toward the Trump administration.
Imagine if this memo had been released in 2017 or 2018?… the sunlight would have been unbearable for a multitude of ongoing narratives. Mueller could never have attempted to prosecute Flynn in 2017 against the backdrop of a known FBI investigation to target and frame Michael Flynn.