“Then-President Barack Obama was intimately aware of the details of December 2016 intercepted phone calls between President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, and then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, according to court documents released Thursday.
The former president’s knowledge and role in his administration’s investigations of the Trump campaign have long been an open question. The revelation puts the former president right in the center of the last administration’s efforts to investigate and target Flynn, whom the Justice Department just dropped their case against on Thursday. Obama had appointed Flynn as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but had fired him in 2014, and he had reportedly warned Trump not to hire Flynn.
The newly released documents from the government’s motion to dismiss their case against Flynn show, however, that at a January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Obama had asked Comey and Yates to “stay behind.”
Obama told them he had “learned of the information about Flynn” and his conversation with Kislyak, where they discussed sanctions his administration had levied against Russia. (A memo penned by then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice also showed that Biden stayed behind as well.)
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, given the information.”
“Yates had no idea what the president was talking about, but figured it out based on the conversation. Yates recalled Comey mentioning the Logan Act, but can’t recall if he specified there was an ‘investigation.’ Comey did not talk about prosecution in the meeting,” the documents said.
“It was not clear to Yates from where the President first received the information. Yates did not recall Comey’s response to the President’s question about how to treat Flynn. She was so surprised by the information she was hearing that she was having a hard time processing it and listening to the conversation at the same time,” the documents said.