“Top administration officials involved in a key Jan. 5, 2017, discussion with outgoing President Barack Obama about incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn provided contrasting accounts of what transpired, according to recently declassified records.
By all accounts, Obama and top officials discussed phone calls between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during a White House meeting in the final days of the Obama administration. But the details about the conversation—including who brought up Flynn and when—differ from account to account, suggesting there is more to learn about what transpired at the Oval Office.
Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said she first learned about the Flynn–Kislyak calls during the Jan. 5 meeting, according to a recently declassified summary (pdf) of Yates’s interview with special counsel Robert Mueller on Dec. 7, 2017. According to Yates, after the president was briefed about the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Obama dismissed everyone present except for Yates and FBI Director James Comey. Obama then told Yates and Comey that he learned about the Flynn–Kislyak calls and the fact that the two men discussed sanctions.
Comey’s account of what transpired differs. In his recently declassified testimony (pdf) to the House Intelligence Committee on March 7, 2017, Comey said that Obama brought up the Flynn topic sometime during the Jan. 5 meeting, but didn’t mention whether the conversation occurred before or after Obama dismissed the rest of the officials from the Oval Office. According to Comey’s account, Obama brought up Flynn.
But according to a recently declassified email written on Jan. 20, 2017, by then-national security adviser Susan Rice, Yates and Comey weren’t the only people in the room with Obama after the rest of the officials were dismissed. Rice wrote that she and Vice President Joe Biden were present as well, contradicting the version of the events put forth by Yates. Rice’s email also contradicts Comey’s account, stating that Comey, not Obama, was the one to bring up Flynn’s calls with the Russian ambassador.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 5/21/2020) (Archive)