Susan Rice calls for Flynn-Kislyak transcripts to be released
Former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice has called for the Trump administration to release transcripts of phone calls between Michael Flynn, her successor under President Trump, and then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
Rice, through a spokeswoman, renewed her call for the transcripts to be publicly released after acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell declassified an email Rice sent to herself documenting a meeting in January 2017 about Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak.
“In the interest of transparency, Ambassador Rice again calls upon the Director of National Intelligence to release the unredacted transcripts of all Kislyak-Flynn calls,” spokeswoman Erin Pelton said in a statement on behalf of Rice. “The American people deserve the full transcripts so they can judge for themselves Michael Flynn’s conduct.”
— Erin Pelton (@erin_pelton) May 19, 2020
Flynn’s interactions with Kislyak were the focus of the email Rice sent to herself on Inauguration Day in January 2017, the contents of which were fully declassified Tuesday.
Rice wrote in the email that during a Jan. 5, 2017, meeting with President Obama and top officials, then-FBI Director James Comey said he was worried about sharing classified information with the Trump transition team based on Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak.
Comey told Obama that the intelligence community should “potentially” withhold information from Flynn. While Comey noted the “level of communication” was “unusual,” he had no indication that Flynn had actually given Kislyak any classified information.
Obama responded that he was not “asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective,” according to Rice’s email, and instructed officials to “proceed as it normally would by the book.”
The declassification of Rice’s email further fueled Republicans’ claims that Obama administration officials improperly targeted Flynn during and after the 2016 campaign and influenced the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russians.
Rice’s spokeswoman pushed back on the GOP’s criticism, saying the email was evidence that no members of the administration interfered in the FBI’s probe.
“[T]he email makes clear that the Obama Administration did not change the way it briefed Michael Flynn – but rather that President Obama asked Director Comey ‘to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team,’ ” the spokeswoman said.
“In fact, Ambassador Rice briefed Michael Flynn for over 12 hours, on four separate occasions and led the National Security Council in preparing and delivering to him over 100 separate briefing memos. Ambassador Rice did not alter the way she briefed Michael Flynn on Russia as a result of Director Comey’s response.”
Flynn was ultimately fired from his role for misleading Vice President Pence about his conversations with Kislyak.
Senate Republicans, at Trump’s urging, have said they intend to seek testimony from Obama-era officials, including then-vice president and current presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, into whether the White House targeted Flynn.
Grenell last week sent Congress a document from the National Security Agency listing government officials who requested the “unmasking” of Flynn in intelligence reports dated between the 2016 election and Trump’s inauguration.
The list included more than a dozen Obama administration officials, including Biden, Comey, former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and former CIA Director John Brennan, among others.
“Unmasking” refers to the revealing of the identity of an American citizen who was inadvertently caught up in surveillance of a foreigner and is not an uncommon practice by officials with proper clearance. The officials would not have known Flynn was involved in the reports until after the “unmasking.”
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