What did Obama know, and when did he know it?


"Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that she first learned the FBI possessed and was investigating recordings of Flynn’s late 2016 conversations with a Russian envoy following a Jan. 5, 2017, national security meeting at the White House. It wasn't Comey who told her, but former President Barack Obama.

Yates, who was briefly the acting attorney general during the early days of the Trump administration before getting fired, also laid out how in the ensuing days, Comey kept the FBI's actions cloaked in secrecy and repeatedly rebuffed her suggestions that the incoming Trump team be made aware of the Flynn recordings.

These revelations appear in declassified FBI interview notes of the Mueller team’s conversation with Yates in August 2017, highlighted by the Justice Department on Thursday as U.S. Attorney for D.C. Timothy Shea moved to drop its criminal charges against Flynn.

“One thing people will see when they look at the documents is how Director Comey purposely went around the Justice Department and ignored Deputy Attorney General Yates,” Attorney General William Barr said during a Thursday interview with CBS News. “Deputy Attorney General Yates, I've disagreed with her about a couple of things, but, you know, here she upheld the fine tradition of the Department of Justice. She said that the new administration has to be treated just like the Obama administration, and they should go and tell the White House about their findings … And, you know, Director Comey ran around that.”

Yates told Mueller’s team she first learned of the Flynn recordings following a White House meeting about the Intelligence Community Assessment attended by Yates, Comey, Vice President Joe Biden, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, then-national security adviser Susan Rice, and others. Obama asked Yates and Comey to stay behind when the meeting concluded.

Obama “started by saying that he had ‘learned of the information about Flynn’ and his conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak," Yates said, according to the notes. “Obama specified he did not want any additional information on the matter but was seeking information on whether the White House should be treating Flynn any differently.”  washington examiner


Obama did not want any additional information on  the matter?   Careful CYA.  From the account of this meeting it is clear that Obama and Biden knew that Comey was intent on pursuing Flynn.  If that is so, then subsequent events indicate that Obama did not act to stop Comey, and since Comey was hiding his effort against Flynn from main Justice, it must be that someone on high was encouraging him.  Now, who would that be?  pl 


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22 Responses to What did Obama know, and when did he know it?

  1. Jack says:

    All this was known in DC for the past few years. Everyone on the HSPCI knew what the closed door testimony was. Clapper was categorical that there was “no empirical evidence of collusion”. The Crowdstrike CEO was categorical that he had no definitive evidence that the Russians exfiltrated data from the DNC servers. Yet Schiff, Clapper, Brennan and all the media hacks were on TV every night screaming Russia! Russia! and Collusion! Collusion!
    Devin Nunes was spot on and correct that there was an attempted coup. All the media and even many Republicans called him a conspiracy theorist.
    SST maintaining its glorious tradition was spot on in its analysis with the limited data available that there was a coup and the traitors were not those in the Trump campaign but the leadership in law enforcement and intelligence. A big shoutout to you, Larry and David Habakkuk.
    Trump himself was like deer caught in the headlights. Furiously tweeting but not doing much of anything else while his own nominees at the DOJ and FBI were plotting and acting to destroy his presidency. Devin Nunes imploring him to declassify and expose all the evidence from the FISA applications, the 302s, the internal communications among the plotters including the prolific FBI lovers. He still hasn’t.
    What happens next? Will the whole coup be exposed in its entirety? Will anyone be held to account?
    If Trump doesn’t care enough even when his ass was being fried to disclose all the evidence with the stroke of his pen and if all he cares is to tweet “witch-hunt” and “Drain the Swamp”, how realistic is it that any of the coup plotters will be tried for treason?

  2. Deap says:

    Barry was doing his usual thing, the signature move of his entire political career: …. voting “present”. His CYA equivalent of no comment.
    Plausible deniability was a high art form for Barry. Where was Barry Soetoro between 16:00 and 22:00 on Sept 11, 2012? We still do not know.

  3. Jim Henely says:

    I’m revealing my age by using this expression from the Watergate era, but “what did Obama, Biden and Comey know, and when did they know it?”

  4. RussianBot says:

    So Obama used Yates to go after Flynn. They have really worked a number on Flynn to discredit him, and it almost worked. Now it would appear their scheme is starting to unravel a bit.
    Is Obama being thrown under the bus here? Are Comey and Yates (or others) trying to cover their asses now that Flynn is free? Did Trump and his allies always know this and waited for the right moment to reveal it for better effect? The game is at hand.
    Yahoo released a leaked call today of Obama criticizing Trump’s response over coronavirus. Here’s the big headline Yahoo is running:
    Exclusive: Obama says in private call that ‘rule of law is at risk’ in Michael Flynn case

    The Flynn case was invoked by Obama as a principal reason that his former administration officials needed to make sure former Vice President Joe Biden wins the November election against President Trump. “So I am hoping that all of you feel the same sense of urgency that I do,” he said. “Whenever I campaign, I’ve always said, ‘Ah, this is the most important election.’ Especially obviously when I was on the ballot, that always feels like it’s the most important election. This one — I’m not on the ballot — but I am pretty darn invested. We got to make this happen.”

    Obama misstated the charge to which Flynn had previously pleaded guilty. He was charged with false statements to the FBI, not perjury.

    Misstated seems like a stretch. The call sounds scripted and I suspect the leak was deliberate.

  5. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Sundance covered in great detail the context in which that 2017-01-05 meeting occurred:
    A YouTube video of Barry’s cry of dismay (and fear) over the dismissal of charges against Flynn is here:

  6. turcopolier says:

    What was Brennan?

  7. Brennan was encouraging Comey.
    I just learned something recently. Brennan spent time in Indonesia around the same time that Obama’s mother lived there.
    It has been reported that Obama and Brennan had a fairly close relationship. I wonder how long they have known each other.

  8. JMH says:

    Keith Harbaugh,
    O’Biden’s Dad just wheeled around the corner in a wood paneled station wagon and dressed down the neighborhood kids who took O’Biden’s ball. A humiliating experience for O’Biden who sits in the passenger seat as a mere spectator.

  9. Keith Harbaugh says:

    Sundance just posted an astoundingly detailed account of
    how illegal surveillance was conducted by unauthorized FBI-contractors
    while the GOP was sorting out the candidates for its 2016 presidential nomination:
    The open question is: Just who were those contractors?
    Surely that is known to some, and is significant to current politically-charged inquiries.
    Just why that information has not become public is a good question.
    Can anyone provide a reliable source for that information?

  10. Jack says:

    It is unsurprising @realDonaldTrump enjoys wallowing in his fetid self-indulgence, but I find it surreal that so many other government officials encourage his ignorance, incompetence, & destructive behavior.
    BTW, history will be written by the righteous, not by his lickspittle.

    Is Brennan always like this? His tweets seem unhinged.

  11. Fred says:

    “Deputy Attorney General Yates”
    She served as Acting AG, accepting the post when Trump was inaugurated. What did she tell him about his whole affair? Was the opposition to the EO 13769 just an excuse to have herself fired so she would not have to either perjure herself or reveal the truth to Trump?
    “All this was known in DC for the past few years.”
    You left out that Paul Ryan was Speaker of the House because the Republicans were in the majority then and the HPSCI under his term as speaker did not subpeona a very large group of people, didn’t ask releveant questions, didn’t release information to the public and thus ensuring the left took over the House after the 2016 elections.

  12. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    I, too, coincidentally just concluded a close reading of the Conservative Tree House post that Mr. Harbaugh just recommended. It is, indeed, well worth such a close reading. There have been various puzzling things along the way these last few years for which this post provides explanations. Of particular utility, is its inclusion of a timeline of the arc of the episodes of illegal government surveillance that began (?) with the IRS spying of 2012, and how – and why – it evolved from that episode into the massive abuses of the FISA process of which we are becoming increasingly aware as revelations are forthcoming.
    CTH’s work is superb, but I do want to say that I am also supremely grateful for all of the good work and analysis from Larry Johnson, and other contributors, as well as for the trenchant comments of Col. Lang. Multivalent sources of information, analysis, and comment provide one with the parallax requisite to understanding this web of perfidy. My gratitude also is owing to all of you Members of the Committee of Correspondence, each of whom brings personal observations and insights to bear, always much to my benefit.

  13. Jack says:

    I did see a clip of Matt Gaetz calling out Ryan and Trey Gowdy from preventing them from issuing subpoenas. Why do you think the Republican leadership in the House and Senate did not want to investigate?

  14. Jim says:

    [“One thing people will see when they look at the documents is how Director Comey purposely went around the Justice Department and ignored Deputy Attorney General Yates,” Attorney General William Barr said during a Thursday interview with CBS News. “Deputy Attorney General Yates, I’ve disagreed with her about a couple of things, but, you know, here she upheld the fine tradition of the Department of Justice. She said that the new administration has to be treated just like the Obama administration, and they should go and tell the White House about their findings … And, you know, Director Comey ran around that.”]
    This is fascinating because: this, what Barr is discussing, on national TV, . . . this particular dimension, this Yates/Comey playing hide the bacon has nothing at all to do with actual Brady material in the Lt. Gen. Flynn case.
    Barr is referring to the Special Counsel Mueller Office’s interview with Yates on Aug. 15, 2017, entered into the system three weeks later. Her interview occurred more than two months prior to Flynn’s coerced guilty plea.
    This SCO document was released to the court May 7 as exhibit 4 attached to the DOJ motion to end the prosecution of Flynn. It was produced in line with request by defense for Brady material.
    What Barr forgets to say is: This SCO interview of Yates shows that Comey and Yates talked on the phone — prior to — the notorious Jan. 24, 2017 FBI interview of Flynn.
    “Comey . . . informed her that two agents were on their way to interview Flynn at the White House,” the SCO said, according to the new court filing.
    Yates took no action, — she did nothing to order Comey to abort this soon-to-happen FBI interview of Flynn, this SCO interview of her shows.
    She was Comey’s boss, the Acting Attorney General, at the time.
    It shows that she was upset precisely because she wanted the FBI to coordinate with the DOJ — on getting Flynn screwed — even suggesting, she told the SCO, that consideration that Flynn be recorded, instead of memorialized using standard 302 form – in-writing-only.
    Yates wanted Flynn fired, she told the SCO.
    Yates apparently was unable on her own to figure out, as the AG, the FBI and DOJ — none of them had any predicate, no “materiality,” nothing “tethered” to any crime, as there was no crime. And if she did not know these basic facts, had no awareness of them, then: why was she the AG in the first place?
    And what did Yates glean, right after this Jan. 24 interview of Flynn?
    “Yates received a brief readout of the interview the night it happened, and a longer readout the following day,” which begs the question of why the original 302 of this was never produced by the DOJ, to the defense; and also, why Covington law firm never asked to see this before allowing Flynn to make his plea.
    “Yates did not speak to the interviewing agents herself, but understood from others that their assessment was that Flynn showed no ‘tells’ of lying,” the SCO report says.
    Based on her personal preference, rather than DOJ norms, she went to the White House, and her expectation was they would fire Flynn. I fail to see how this nonsense by Yates seem to escape Barr’s notice. Or, is something else also going on?
    She personally went to the White House, and her smear campaign against Flynn began, went on and on and on, even after she was fired after being Acting AG for just ten days.
    In her brief stint as Acting AG: Yates refused to tell the White House Counsel if Flynn was being investigated, when the WHC asked her, directly, about this, according to what she told the SCO. Can’t blame this fact on the unctuous Comey.
    She did tell the SCO that she wanted the WHC to know Flynn had been interviewed by the FBI – and that she had concerns about Flynn, and she said those concerns related to the Logan Act. Yates told SCO her concerns were because of the Logan Act, and that she expressed this to the White House.
    The Washington Examiner reporting that “It wasn’t Comey who told her, but former President Barack Obama” — about the Flynn-Kislyak phone call — this is interesting, very interesting, if true, assuming Yates was telling the SCO the truth. This is what she claims in her August 2017 interview with SCO.
    But this bit of information is hardly Brady material [how is whether Obama or Comey told her materially germane to the Flynn case, viz. Brady material?].
    The question the SCO should have been concerned about is: who actually leaked the transcript of the Flynn-Kislyak telephone call to the media?
    Is this a serious crime? Or is this OK?
    We still do not know this answer, and AG Barr has not told us. Nor has his boss, Trump.
    It is interesting that Barr chose to highlight that Comey went around Yates’ back in Comey ordering FBI to interview Flynn, but not that Yates knew of the Flynn interview before it went down, and sat on her arse about it.
    In fairness to Comey, they were, as the FB of Investigations, conducting the investigation, which is their job, however rogue this FBI’s I actually was, targeting Flynn.
    The Flynn-Kislyak telephone call, occurring late December of 2016, was reported by the Washington Post on Jan. 12, 2017, eight days before Trump was sworn in.
    And who leaked this, has anyone been prosecuted, will anyone be?
    Obama still president, Loretta Lynch still AG, Yates still Deputy AG, Comey FBI director, McCabe Deputy FBI director, etc.
    Starting Jan. 20 and for ten days, Yates was the AG. She appeared bent on destroying Flynn, and did nothing that I know of to prosecute who leaked the Flynn-Kislyak telephone call to WAPO. Did someone on high perhaps ask her not to?
    Nor was Comey and McCabe investigating this as best I can tell. Yet this was an actual, clear cut crime we all saw, plain as day. Or maybe this is OK? Was someone on high asking them not to?
    I watched Barr say, during his interview with CBS news, [following the May 7 release of documents to the court]: “One thing people will see when they look at the documents is how Director Comey purposely went around the Justice Department and ignored Deputy Attorney General Yates,” Barr told Catherine Herridge.
    And my first thought was: why is Barr doing an apparent CYA for Yates?
    What office might she want to be running for in the future; is she a cooperating witness in the wider Durham probe, why is Yates being portrayed as someone other than what she was: A leader in the effort to destroy Michael Flynn.
    She was the AG, and she failed to hold Comey accountable at the time; this is a fact, apparently, that reflects poorly on her.
    She told the White House — as best she could — that Flynn was a piece of dung, and told the SCO, in their interview of her, that she expected the White House to fire Flynn. This reflects poorly on her.
    And threatened Logan Act prosecution of Flynn to the White house. This reflects poorly on her.
    She smeared Flynn in a CNN interview on May 16, the day before Mueller was appointed. This reflects poorly on her.
    Well, who leaked the Flynn-Kislyak telephone call, and did Yates act on that?
    Folks that “should have known better” — far and wide, smeared Flynn, justified the lawlessness against him; one of many examples, titled: “Leaking Flynn’s name to the press was illegal, but utterly justified” published by TheHill.com.
    She wasn’t the only one, but Yates was smack dab in the middle of enabling and perpetuating a long-running smear campaign against Flynn, to destroy him by any means necessary. This reflects poorly on her.
    Why is Barr carrying water for her.
    As for Obama, he did nothing to stop Comey in 2016 when Comey announced he was exonerating Clinton. Nor did AG Lynch, even though that is not the function of the FBI — an act of insubordination, by the way, for which Rosenstein officially fired him in May 2017, which set, somehow, in motion the Mueller SC appointment by Rosenstein.
    If Comey is such a rogue, and Barr is now claiming Yates tried to do the right thing, in spite of Comey, then why didn’t Yates fire Comey Jan. 24 right on the spot? And end the fiasco right then and there?
    In her May 16, 2017 CNN interview she only has kind words to say about him.
    AS for who on high was encouraging Comey’s extra legal free-lancing in the Clinton and Flynn matters is a pertinent question.
    Who were the enablers, in other words?
    Barr appears to imply Comey did it all on his own, which is not entirely accurate. Perhaps this also implies that Durham will prosecute Comey? I don’t know if anyone will be prosecuted at all. Time will tell.
    It is clear Comey’s enablers would, by rank, have been, viz. the Clinton matter: Obama and Lynch.
    In the Flynn matter: Trump and Yates.
    Simple logic dictates that: if Main Justice was “not in the loop” then, for Clinton matter, this means Obama was enabling Comey to exonerate her; and also dictate that, for Flynn, that Trump was the one “on high” enabling Comey.
    If there are others on high, they were not in the chain of command as I understand the current US Government structure.

  15. Fred says:

    “Never Trump”.
    You seem to think Trump was informed of all the relevant information about the FBI’s conduct during his first ten days in office. Because Barr, being appointed AG two years after these events, has yet to indict anyone in the case, Trump was actually enabling Yates in destroying Flynn? Neither appear to be logical conclusions to me.

  16. Bobo says:

    So on a December 29, 2016 The Obama administration placed sanctions on Russia that evolved to Flynn, at the instruction of the incoming Trump administration, contacting the Russian ambassador requesting that they not retaliate or heighten the situation.
    On January 5th Ms. Yates learned from Obama of the Flynn intervention.
    Rather than contact Trump directly Obama went along with the Comey Logan Act thoughts.
    The decision to enact sanctions obviously involved State, CIA, DNI and FBI but why not Justice or did it. But why was the incoming Trump administration not consulted.
    There was only one Machiavellian thinker in that group and it wasn’t the idiot who got his panties all twisted up.

  17. Deap says:

    Writing for National Review, Andrew McCarthy speculates what the Comey-Trump “pee pee tape” briefing should have sounded like if done as Obama demanded “by the books”:
    ……”Mr. President-Elect, that salacious story about prostitutes in Moscow is part of a set of reports by a former British intelligence officer, compiled during the 2016 race and paid for by the Clinton campaign.
    It alleges that you and your campaign engaged in a “conspiracy of co-operation” with the Russian government, in which your point man was Paul Manafort, who used Carter Page as an intermediary.
    Page is said to have met with two top Putin operatives in July while in Moscow, where they discussed (a) the possibility that you’d drop sanctions in return for significant financial considerations, (b) their willingness to share compromising information about Hillary Clinton with you, and (c) compromising information about you that they possessed and could use against you if you were not accommodating toward Russia.
    Later, the reports state, your lawyer, Michael Cohen, was dispatched to Prague for a secret meeting with Russian officials over media stories about Page’s activities in Moscow and Manafort’s ties to the Kremlin-backed Yanukovich party in Ukraine. It is further alleged that Putin’s regime, with your full knowledge and support, was behind the leaking of DNC emails to WikiLeaks.
    There is much more in the reports, but that is the gist. Although the intelligence community has not been able to verify these allegations, the FBI has great confidence in the former British intelligence officer who provided the information to us.
    Therefore, in October, just three weeks before Election Day, the FBI and Justice Department incorporated these allegations in an application to the FISA court for a warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page.
    As a matter of fact, in the next few days, we’re planning to reaffirm these same allegations about your campaign and the Kremlin in another warrant application so the court can renew the surveillance for 90 more days. The warrants permit us to monitor Page’s communications, including any old emails and texts from his time working on your campaign that he may have stored rather than deleted……”

  18. Diana Croissant says:

    Obama and HRC, two graduates of the Saul Alinsky “Rules for Radicals” program.
    Trump was such a different adversary than all the other Republican candidates. I bet all their plans for overturning the government as we know it just didn’t take someone like him and his many MAGA-wearing followers into account.
    Yes, it’s definitely time for all the people involved in the attempted coup to be held to account.

  19. Deap says:

    Diana, good question. Which book was it to be done by.
    You have the answer: Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinksy or anything written by his pal Bill Ayers, including his own fictionalized “autobiography” of the same authorship.
    Which book was that, Mr Obama? Amazing this obvious follow-up question was missed by anyone questioning Susan Rice.

  20. blue peacock says:

    Thanks for the extract from Andy McCarthy. Yes, that would have been the “by the book” briefing. Trump would have laughed Comey out of the White House.

  21. Keith Harbaugh says:

    K.T. McFarland gave (on May 9) a really worthwhile 5 minute analysis of the plot against Trump:
    1. She was in a meeting with Brennan, Comey and Clapper where it became apparent that
    “they hated his guts” (referring to Trump).
    2. Her considered view is that
    there really was a plot to keep bringing pressure on his subordinates and associates until they were willing to tell lies about Trump sufficient to force him out of office.

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