Email Reveals Concern Over Sharing Intel with Trump Team

News  |  Feb 13, 2018

According to an email that President Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent herself on Donald Trump's inauguration day, the outgoing administration met with FBI Director James Comey about two weeks prior to find out what they needed to know about the Russia investigation and if there were any limitations on sharing intel with their successors.


A person familiar with the January 5, 2017, meeting said it was focused on whether the Obama national security team needed to be concerned about sharing information with the incoming administration, given that the FBI's Russia investigation picked up intelligence suggesting some members of the Trump team could be compromised.


The meeting included Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Comey and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

"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."

The email came to light as Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, continue to request information related to former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and the dossier he wrote detailing suspected connections between Trump and Russia. 

It is unclear why Senators Grassley and Graham find Rice's email odd, but they have sent her a letter asking for an explanation of the correspondence to herself.

In a statement, Grassley and Graham said, "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.' "


Rice wrote in the email that the meeting she referenced was a "brief, follow-on conversation" after Obama was briefed the same day by Comey, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, then-CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers about the soon-to-be-published intelligence community report that concluded that Russia meddled in the election to help Trump win. That briefing included mention of the relationship between incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, according to The Washington Post, as well as mention of the dossier.


"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," 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. Comey said he would."

Rice's email was sent at 12:15 p.m., according to the time stamp in the document, which if correct indicates it was just minutes before the Obama administration officially left office.

Full story: Obama admin discussed how much of Russia meddling investigation to share with incoming Trump team (CNN)

Grassley and Graham letter to Susan Rice (pdf)