Odd Email Shows Rice Kept Back Transition Info Flynn Should Have Had

Obama's former national security adviser apparently viewed her successor 'as a criminal suspect,' judging by strange message she sent herself

by Kathryn Blackhurst | Updated 14 Feb 2018 at 6:51 AM

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy said Tuesday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” that former national security adviser Susan Rice may have been “laying the groundwork” for shutting out her initial successor, Michael Flynn, when she sent herself a newly released email on President Donald Trump’s inauguration day.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released Rice’s “unusual” email to herself from Jan. 20, 2017, on Monday.

In her email, Rice described former President Barack Obama instructing law enforcement and intelligence officials to “go by the book” in probing allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian business and government interests during the 2016 presidential election.

“So President Obama wants to know over the next couple of weeks if there’s any reason why [they] can’t share with the incoming team,” said McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and contributing editor for National Review.

“And, you know, you have to think about what was going on then. They were investigating Flynn at that time, and he is going to be Susan Rice’s successor, who you’d think she would be cooperating with and would be sharing information with,” McCarthy continued. “And yet they were regarding him as a criminal suspect.”

Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, briefly served as Trump’s national security adviser until reports surfaced that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his conversations with a Russian ambassador.

More recently, Flynn pled guilty to one felony of making false statements to the FBI during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the allegations concerning the Trump campaign and Russian collusion.

In her email, which was sent the day she and Obama left office, Rice documented a meeting two weeks earlier that included Obama, herself, former Vice President Joe Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey, and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

In the email to herself, Rice wrote, "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.

McCarthy said there were "two interesting things" about Rice's email to herself, one of which was the "by the book" line. McCarthy said it shouldn't have been necessary "to tell people that things needed to be done by the book particularly when ... this thing was anything but done by the book unless the book is like [Saul Alinsky's] 'Rules for Radicals,' right?"

"I guess they didn't identify the book," McCarthy said. "But the other interesting thing ... is this holding out, the laying the groundwork to hold out information."

Related: Senators Press Obama Confidante Susan Rice About 'Unusual Email'

Instead of cooperating with her successor, Rice and the Obama administration regarded Flynn "as a criminal suspect," McCarthy said.

Rice, who admitted to unmasking the identities of Flynn and other Trump aides in intelligence reports, "ultimately had the FBI go speak to [Flynn] and ended up prosecuting him for false statements," McCarthy said.

"So I wonder if they were laying the groundwork to not let him in on things because they're regarding him as a suspect rather than her successor," McCarthy said. "I think she was creating a government document on purpose. And we know that's not always the usual thing in the Obama administration. Often they try to not create government documents when they were doing government work. But she clearly was making a paper trail here."

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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