Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, May 22, 2020
Fifteen minutes after President Donald Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017, outgoing Obama national security adviser Susan Rice penned the Cover Your Ass (CYA) memo to herself which essentially documented the scandal Trump refers to as “Obamagate,” analysts say.
The now declassified memo details a Jan. 5, 2017 Oval Office meeting and, analysts say, implicates then-President Barack Obama and other top officials including then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-FBI Director James Comey in the targeting of incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Rice’s lawyer said she drafted the memo to herself “upon the advice of the White House Counsel’s Office,” Fox News reported.
The memo was “aimed to protect the then-national security adviser’s boss, President Barack Obama — but it’s backfiring spectacularly,” the New York Post said in a May 20 editorial.
The point of what several analysts have called a “bizarre” note to herself, was to memorialize the meeting with her, Obama, Biden, Comey and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, following a briefing on Russian hacking during the 2016 election.
The Jan. 5, 2017 Oval Office meeting Rice documented reveals that Obama had provided guidance on how law enforcement should address Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Portions of Rice’s memo had been previously released, but a section on Comey’s response had been classified as “TOP SECRET” until now. The new section says Comey had suggested to Obama that the National Security Council (NSC) might not want to pass “sensitive information related to Russia” to Flynn.
In addition, Rice wrote that Obama wanted to be sure that his outgoing administration was “mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that [they could not] share information fully as it relates to Russia.”
Comey reportedly reassured Obama, promising he was proceeding “by the book,” and saying that he had “no indication thus far that Flynn [had] passed classified information to [Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak].” However, he did note that ‘the level of communication [was] unusual.’ ”
Obama, the Rice memo claims, stressed that “every aspect of this issue” be handled “by the book” and then “reiterated” that law enforcement proceed “by the book.” Comey “affirmed” he’s “proceeding ‘by the book.’ ”
“That’s right: She used the term’by the book’ three times,” the Post noted. “Could a note scream ‘cover your butt’ any louder? Why would lawyers want a document created, two weeks after the fact and at the very last minute, that purported to show the Russia probe was totally kosher?”
The Post’s editorial continued: “Surely because they feared people would think otherwise, because the probe wasn’t. We now know, in fact, that nothing about that investigation was handled ethically. No outgoing president should push aides to withhold information from his duly elected successor: Their duty is to share every last bit of it and cooperate with his staff to the fullest. This was a full-on bid to sabotage Team Trump — and it worked all too well.”
Appearing on “America’s Newsroom” Wednesday with host Ed Henry, former Rep. Trey Gowdy said of Rice’s memo: “It’s the most bizarre thing I’ve read. It is, ‘Dear Diary, President Obama is perfect and Jim Comey says he’s done everything by the book.’ Well, I’d like to know what book he’s following.”
Gowdy continued: “Remember, they are about to close the counterintelligence investigation. It can’t possibly, Ed, be a criminal investigation because remember Sally Yates doesn’t know anything about it. She’s the top law enforcement official in the country and this is news to her. To this day she learned it. So, it can’t be a criminal investigation.
“The other thing I find shocking about this is if Susan Rice had been interviewed by Jim Comey that day, he would’ve followed a completely different book.”
Gowdy added of Comey: “Remember he said he did things to Flynn that he never would have done to the other administrations.” Gowdy was referring to a 2019 interview in which Comey told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace that he “sent” FBI agents to be in the room during an interrogation of Flynn, noting it was “something we, I probably wouldn’t have done or gotten away with in a more organized investigation — a more organized administration.”
Gowdy concluded: “So, I’d like to know what the name of the damn book that they are following is because it’s not the FBI manual.”
Rice’s memo, “leaves little doubt that the Obama administration weaponized federal surveillance laws to target Trump associates and undermine the incoming administration,” John Daniel Davidson wrote for National Review. “The story thus far is complex, but it reveals a disturbing abuse of power by the Obama administration that suggests congressional reform of federal surveillance laws is needed to ensure this never happens again.”
Democrats and the major media “are scrambling to dismiss the whole thing by insisting Obama committed no crime in the course of the Trump-Russia investigation, and neither did Biden, and neither did anyone else,” Davidson noted.
“The media even construed Attorney General William Barr’s comments Monday, in which he called the Trump-Russia probe a ‘grave injustice’ that was ‘unprecedented in U.S. history,’ as a dismissal of the ‘Obamagate’ plot to undermine Trump’s presidency, even though Barr appeared to suggest that the Department is looking for potential criminality by Obama administration officials other than Obama and Biden. In other words, nothing to see here folks, move along.”
Ivan Pentchoukov of The Epoch Times notes in a May 21 analysis:
The exact details of the conversation in the Oval Office are significant in light of the recent motion by the Department of Justice to dismiss the charges against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in late 2017. The DOJ filed the motion together with a batch of records which show that the FBI had no basis to conduct the interview during which he allegedly lied. The day before the Jan. 5 White House meeting, the FBI approved the closing of Flynn’s case after finding no evidence to support the allegation that he was colluding with Russia. The formal paperwork was never filed after FBI management intervened to keep the case open.
The documents filed in court by the DOJ also go a long way to substantiate the theory that the top brass at the FBI may have set Flynn up.
As part of the Russia investigation, the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page. The warrant was based in large part on the unverified Christopher Steele dossier on Trump which was paid for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The Epoch Times provides a comprehensive look at the timeline of the FBI’s FISA abuses here.