A newly released hand-written note by former FBI agent Peter Strzok from early Jan. 2017 confirms knowledge and direction of the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn by former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden.
The note was submitted as evidence by Flynn’s lawyers Jesse Binnall and Sidney Powell on June 24 just as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a rare writ of mandamus ordering Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the case against Flynn.
Per Binnall and Powell, both Obama and Biden were aware there was nothing untoward about Flynn’s Dec. 2016 discussions with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, “Yesterday, the Government produced further stunning and exculpatory evidence, previously withheld from General Flynn, showing that Director Comey himself and the highest levels of the Obama Administration had the transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls with officials of other countries and knew General Flynn’s calls were lawful and proper.”
Binnall and Powell continued, “Strzok’s notes believed to be of January 4, 2017, reveal that former President Obama, James Comey, Sally Yates, Joe Biden, and apparently Susan Rice discussed the transcripts of Flynn’s calls and how to proceed against him. Mr. Obama himself directed that ‘the right people’ investigate General Flynn. This caused former FBI Director Comey to acknowledge the obvious: General Flynn’s phone calls with Ambassador Kislyak ‘appear legit.’ According to Strzok’s notes, it appears that Vice President Biden personally raised the idea of the Logan Act. That became the admitted pretext to investigate General Flynn.”
Turns out Comey was right. The now-released transcripts of his phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak on Dec. 23, 2016, Dec. 29, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016 confirm that Flynn was engaging with Kislyak to stop a dangerous escalation in U.S.-Russian relations from occurring during the transition.
The investigation into whether Flynn was a Russian agent had been closed on Jan. 3, 2017, only to be reopened by Strzok based on the intercepted conversations between Flynn and Kislyak. This came at the time the Obama administration was levying sanctions against Russia and expelling many Russian diplomats from the U.S.
Flynn told Kislyak on Dec. 29, 2016 that “we need cool heads to prevail” and advised that Moscow only respond in a “reciprocal” fashion. By Dec. 31, 2016, Kislyak had reported that Moscow had received Flynn’s message and would only respond in reciprocal fashion.
Nothing much to that. Flynn was protecting U.S. national security and ensuring a smooth transition on U.S.-Russian relations headed into 2017. As Comey reportedly noted, the conversations “appear legit.”
The Strzok note, if dated correctly, came a day before the Jan. 5, 2017 meeting between former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates than was shown a now fully declassified letter former National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote to herself on Jan. 20, 2017, memorializing the meeting.
Per Rice’s summary “On January 5, following a briefing by IC leadership on Russian hacking during the 2016 Presidential election, President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Jim Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office. Vice President Biden and I were also present.”
This was the Russian interference into the 2016 election briefing given a day before then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued the joint intelligence assessment on the same.
However, the version that was given to former President Barack Obama and then-President-Elect Trump on Jan. 5, 2017 included some of the allegations leveled by former British spy Christopher Steele’s dossier, paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, that Trump was a Russian agent.
The allegations were eventually debunked by none other than Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who in his 2019 report stated, “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” and “the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”
After the core intel briefing on Jan. 5, 2017, in the conversation between Obama, Comey, Yates, Biden and Rice with Obama doing nothing to stop the investigation into the incoming administration: “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’. 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. From a national security perspective, however, 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.”
The memo continued, with Comey noting that no classified information had been passed along to Kislyak: “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 pas 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.’”
Afterward, somebody leaked the Flynn call to the Washington Post on Jan. 12, 2017, and then the FBI was sent to ask Flynn about it on Jan. 24, 2017 in a perjury trap. The rest, as they say, is history, leading swiftly to Flynn’s firing, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal, Comey’s firing and then the appointment of Mueller.
It is possible that the Strzok note details the same Jan. 5, 2017 meeting in the Oval Office, and that Pannell and Powell have the date wrong, in which case it provides additional context to the conversation.
Either way, both the Rice memo and now the Strzok note show that Obama and Biden were fully aware of and directing the criminal investigation against Flynn and thus Trump. All at a time when the Trump campaign and then transition were already under active FISA Court-ordered surveillance based on the Steele dossier, spying on the opposition party in an election year for what turns out were false allegations of being Russian agents. This one goes all the way to the top — and Obama and Biden did nothing to stop it.
Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.