Former FBI Director James Comey warned President Barack Obama of the potential incoming national security advisor Mike Flynn might pass information to the Russians, according to a newly declassified memo.
The memo, which outgoing national security advisor Susan Rice sent to herself on her final day in office, memorializes a White House meeting several days earlier where Obama and top officials discussed potential risks posed by Flynn.
A portion of the document formerly classified as ‘Top Secret’ has now been revealed.
Former FBI Director James Comey warned President Barack Obama in 2017 that Mike Flynn had an ‘unusual’ amount of communication with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before taking office as Donald Trump’s national security advisor
‘From a national security perspective, Comey said he does have some concerns that incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian Ambassador Kislyak,’ Rice wrote about the January 5, 2017 meeting.
‘Comey said that could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive information. President Obama asked if Comey was saying that the [National Security Council] should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn,’ she continued.
Comey’s response was that was ‘potentially the case.’ According to Fox News, Comey continued that there weren’t indications Flynn passed on classified information to the Russina ambassador, but noted ‘the level of communication is unusual.’
U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd L) meets with Vice President Joseph Biden (2nd L), Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and National Security Adviser Susan Rice (R) in the Oval Office of the White House January 7, 2015 in Washington, DC. President Obama spoke on the gunmen attack at the office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. Two days earlier, top Obama administration members discussed Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador
Vice President Joe Biden was present during the 2017 meeting
President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), during an Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017
‘From a national security perspective, Comey said he does have some concerns that incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian Ambassador Kislyak,’ Rice wrote in an email to herself
Also present at the meeting were then-Vice President Joe Biden and deputy attorney general Sally Yates.
The memo was partially declassified in 2018. In it, Rice states that Obama wanted the matter handled ‘by the book.’
‘President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book,’” wrote herself.
“The president stressed that he is not asking about, initiating 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.”
Comey ‘affirmed that he was proceeding “by the book” as it relates to law enforcement,’ according to the memo.
‘The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would,’ Rice concludes.
The network obtained the memo from Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s office.
U.S. intelligence intercepts had already picked up communications between Flynn and Kislyak. Numerous officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, sought to ‘unmask’ Flynn’s name from intelligence reports, including to information declassified by the Trump administration last week.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell declassified the document, as well as the unmasking information.
Trump at a cabinet meeting Tuesday praised Grenell unreservedly.
‘What a job. I think you’ll go down as the all time great acting ever at any position,’ said Trump, after Grenell gave remarks calling for transparency.
One Trump ally concluded that the memo proves that Flynn was being targeted by Obama’ inner sanctum.
But it has been previously reported that Obama warned Trump not to hire Flynn months before the meetin, and that Trump proceeded anyway. He would fire Flynn after just weeks on the job. He said he did so because Flynn was not truthful with Vice President Mike Pence about his own Russia contacts.