We knew this, of course. But the unredacted version of Susan Rice’s Inauguration Day memo from January of 2017 seems just a bit hapless (or perhaps finger-pointy) as a “CYA” memo. Unredacting the memo has clarified in black and white what we have heretofore concluded through deduction: that members of the Obama administration discussed in one week the same highly classified information that was leaked to the media the next week, and were fully cognizant of doing so throughout the whole period. Rice helpfully wrote it down for us.
The redacted memo (or “Note to File” email) was originally published with the paragraph marked by Catherine Herridge blacked out. (There’s a link below where you can see the blacked-out version.)
DEVELOPING: Declassified Rice email documenting WH meeting 1/5/2017 obtained @CBSNews pic.twitter.com/uA9V9oo4n4
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) May 19, 2020
The unredacted memo gives us that paragraph in full.
The memo is classified “Top Secret.” It was redacted at first because of the formerly blacked-out paragraph. That paragraph, now declassified so everyone can see it, is what was Top Secret.
(Whether “Top Secret” was precisely the correct classification is a separate issue, and one we can’t go into here. The information in the paragraph would, however, have been classified.)
That’s the information that was leaked to the Washington Post and published in David Ignatius’s column a week after the meeting.
You can see why it’s not quite the CYA you would want, if you’d been in a foxhole with Susan Rice.
Here’s the sequence of events, just for grins.
5 January 2017: Biden, Rice, Comey, and Yates (DOJ) discuss the phone call intercepts of Flynn and Kislyak with Obama in the Oval Office.
12 January 2017: Information about the phone-call intercepts of Flynn and Kislyak is published in the Washington Post.
20 January 2017: On Inauguration Day, Susan Rice – well aware that the information about the phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak has been published in the Washington Post – composes a Note for File in which she commemorates the 5 January discussion of the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls, classified Top Secret.
Thus, Rice solemnly commemorated corroborating evidence for a felony crime.
Notably, the redaction in the original release was done by the Information Access Manager at the National Security Council, John Powers. (Mr. Powers’s government career is in archiving, including classified archiving; he was on a rotation from the National Archives to the NSC at the time.) The date of the redaction is marked as 6/13/2017. The memo was forwarded to the Senate Judiciary Committee in response to a request to the National Archives from Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham. (See link.) They went public with it when they sent a letter to Rice in February 2018 asking her to answer questions about it.
So a disinterested professional party is the one who determined which of Rice’s unmarked paragraphs contained the Top Secret information, when it was time to redact the memo for wider release. There’s no question that the memo presents evidence of knowledge by senior officials about “Top Secret” monitoring of the Flynn-Kislyak phone calls, prior to the leak of that information to WaPo.
Others are making the case today that Rice’s memo basically points the finger at James Comey as the bag-man of the Flynn-Kislyak monitoring enterprise.
Rice CYA Jan 20, 2017 email redirects responsibility for “irregularities” of Flynn Title 50 surveillance away from Clapper and Obama and over to FBI Comey – tryin to make it appear as part of their August 16th LE (non-FISA) CrossFire Razor query. https://t.co/v6SOESWPi8
— Rich Higgins (@RichHiggins_DC) May 19, 2020
This is deliberately written to make it look like COMEY is the decider here, he's the executive that makes the decision to hide from Flynn & the rest of the incoming Trump team that they are TARGETS of an ongoing counterintelligence sting being run by the FBI.
— Brian Cates //Flynn & Breitbart's Army! (@drawandstrike) May 19, 2020
I’d have to agree. And the finger-pointing at Comey looks sneaky and conniving too. (Makes me wonder if releasing the unredacted memo is a Bat-signal to Comey; i.e., if he has something to say, now’s the time to talk to Mr. Durham.)
There will be more bag-men to throw under the bus. But this is a bad week to be the FBI. You know what they say about elephants dancing. Get out of the way.