In the George W. Bush and Barack Obama White Houses, processes were put in place so any time the FBI needed to speak to high-ranking officials and staff.
In an interview with MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace at the 92nd Street Y, former FBI director James Comey said those processes weren’t there for the Trump administration. So, in early January, when retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn was found to have spoken to the Russian ambassador without the proper security officials listening in or recording the information.
“He came to our attention in the early part of January when there were statements made by the vice president in public about interactions that Flynn, as the national security advisor designee had had with the Russians,” Comey told Wallace Sunday.
Comey explained that the FBI knew that what Vice President Mike Pence said to the media was false. Because the FBI already had an investigation into what was going on with Russian hacking, they decided to look into it more closely.
He wondered why Flynn was lying about it but knew that it was very clear that it was a lie.
Wallace noted that it’s hard to imagine two FBI agents ending up in the Situation Room in this White House in particular. She asked how that happened, to which Comey replied bluntly, “I sent them.”
“Something I wouldn’t have done or gotten away with, in a more organized administration,” he continued. “In the George W. Bush administration for example or the Obama administration, the protocol — two men that we have perhaps increased appreciation for over the last two years. And in both of those administrations, there was process. So, if the FBI wanted to send agents into the White House itself to interview a senior official you would work through the White House counsel and there’d be discussions and approvals and it would be there. And I thought, it’s early enough. Let’s just send a couple of guys over.”
It prompted laughter from the audience at the idea that the disorganization and mismanagement of the White House would set off a set of endless dominoes that continue to fall today.
“We placed a call to Flynn and said, ‘Hey, we’re sending a couple of guys over. Hope you’ll talk to them,'” Comey recalled. “He said, ‘Sure.’ Nobody else was there and they interviewed him in a conference room at the White House and he lied to them.”
You can watch the Comey interview below, and the part referenced is at the 22-minute mark:
— 92nd Street Y (@92Y) December 10, 2018