Senate Judiciary Committee Chairmen Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Monday released a partially unclassified email by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, suggesting the “unusual” email raises new questions about Barack Obama’s involvement in the FBI’s investigation into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The email, sent by Rice to her own inbox on Jan. 20, 2017, outlines a Jan. 5 meeting between Obama, former FBI Director James Comey, former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and former Vice President Joe Biden.
“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,’” Rice wrote. “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.”
In a letter to Rice, Grassley and Graham questioned Rice’s decision to document that meeting.
“It strikes us as odd that, among your activities in the final moments on the final day of the Obama administration, you would feel the need to send yourself such an unusual email purporting to document a conversation involving President Obama and his interactions with the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia investigation,” Grassley and Graham insisted.
“In addition, despite your claim that President Obama repeatedly told Mr. Comey to proceed ‘by the book,’ substantial questions have arisen about whether officials at the FBI, as well as at the Justice Department and the State Department, actually did proceed ‘by the book,’” they charged.
The letter seems to suggest that Rice, in her role as National Security Adviser, should not have found the time to document a meeting between Obama and his FBI Director about an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016. The senators are demanding a response from Rice by Feb. 22.
But instead of showing impropriety on the part of the Obama administration, Rice’s email really describes how concerned the former president was about the Russia investigation. It also suggests Obama thought Trump may be compromised by the foreign adversary.
“[Obama] 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,” Rice wrote.
"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,” she added. “Comey said he would."