WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) — The Obama administration had good reason to be concerned about sharing classified information with Trump transition officials, an attorney for former National Security Adviser Susan Rice told senators in a letter Friday.
In a response to inquiries from Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), attorney Kathryn Ruemmler stated that “in light of concerning communication between members of the Trump team and Russian officials, before and after the election,” President Obama discussed the issue with his national security team during the transition.
Some news: SUSAN RICE’s lawyer has responded to Grassley & Graham w/more details about Jan 5, 2017 meeting with Obama, Comey, and Yates re: “concerning communications” between Trump campaign and Russia. Rice documented the meeting in an email to herself on advice of WH counsel. pic.twitter.com/5wY8ypQCcF— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) February 23, 2018
Rice sent herself an email minutes before President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017 recounting a Jan. 5 meeting with Obama, the director of the FBI, and the deputy attorney general where the president repeatedly told the officials the investigation of Russian interference must be conducted “by the book.” According to the email, Obama also asked whether there was any sensitive information that should not be shared with the Trump transition team.
In explaining why caution was justified, Ruemmler specifically pointed to incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was later fired by Trump for lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador and pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators.
Grassley and Graham had suggested the timing of the email--just before Rice would likely have lost access to her government email account and two weeks after the meeting--was suspicious.
“Ambassador Rice memorialized the discussion on January 20 because that was the first opportunity she had to do so, given the particularly intense responsibilities of the national security advisor during the remaining days of the administration and transition,” Ruemmler wrote.
In their letter to Rice, Grassley and Graham raised many questions about a dossier of information about Trump’s ties to Russia compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele when he was being paid by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Republicans have alleged the dossier was improperly used to obtain FISA warrants to surveil a former Trump campaign aide.
Ruemmler stated the Jan. 5 meeting had nothing to do with the dossier. She also said Rice was never briefed on the investigation of possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia and she was unaware of any FISA applications sought in the case until she saw it in press reports.