New revelations about the possible motives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in meeting with then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in January 2017 raise questions about then-Vice President Joe Biden’s role.
Documents unsealed Wednesday, including notes and emails, indicate that FBI agents were not focused on the investigation of Russian “collusion” when they met with Flynn at the White House early in President Donald Trump’s term.
Rather, they were determined to extract an admission, or a lie, that would see Flynn prosecuted or fired.
In one note, an FBI agent wrote: “What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” The agents also appear to admit not having warned Flynn beforehand that he was under investigation.
Flynn had spoken to the Russian ambassador by telephone in late December 2016. The Department of Justice viewed those calls as a potential violation of the Logan Act — an obscure and barely enforced statute that bars private citizens from conducting diplomacy. Flynn was already incoming National Security Advisor at the time. He was later prosecuted for lying to the FBI about those conversations, though it is not clear that he actually did so.
The Flynn investigation was part of a broader inquiry into the Trump campaign begun by the FBI under the outgoing Obama administration — one that Biden knew about, at least in part, because he participated in one of the key meetings.
According to a memorandum by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, which was later confirmed by former FBI Director James Comey, Biden was present at a January 5, 2017 meeting where President Barack Obama gave instructions to Comey about how to brief President-elect Donald Trump about Russia.
Rice’s memo — written on Jan. 20, 2017, her last day in office — documented that the meeting took place, and included Obama, Biden, Rice, Comey, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
Rice noted that Obama told Comey to do everything “by the book” — an odd claim, suggesting that she wanted to use it as a possible future defense of the actions of the outgoing administration.
Comey later told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace about the meeting at greater length in a lecture at the 92nd Street Y in December 2018.
Wallace asked Comey about the infamous January 6, 2017 meeting at the Trump Tower, where he briefed the President-elect about the existence of a “dossier” compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, which included salacious content. That dossier, later discredited, was then leaked to the media and published by Buzzfeed and CNN.
Comey told Wallace that the key meeting had been the day before, Jan. 5, at the Oval Office, where he had received his instructions from Obama about how to talk to the Trump team about what was known about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. And Biden was present as well (emphasis added):
We came up January the 6th, the Friday, to brief the president-elect and his incoming team. The day before, we had been in the Oval Office with President Obama and his senior team. … And we went to brief him and General [James] Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, briefed President Obama and Vice President Biden, and laid it all out. … And then General Clapper said, “There’s some additional material, that is of a difficult nature, and we’ve decided that we have to brief the incoming president about it; it involves sexual allegations, an allegation that he was involved with prostitutes in Moscow, that images of that were captured by the Russians, so they’d be in position to coerce the incoming president, and we think we have to tell the incoming president. And President Obama looked at General Clapper straight ahead, and said to him, “What’s the plan for that briefing?” And Clapper looks at me and goes, “Well, Jim is gonna do it.” [Laughter] … President Obama turned slightly, without changing his facial expression, to me, and raised and lowered both eyebrows, like a Groucho Marx thing. And in that moment, I heard, in my head, “You poor bastard.” … So the next day, we’re up here, at Trump Tower …
Comey’s account places Biden at the meeting where the outgoing administration plotted to plant the key piece of evidence in the false “Russia collusion” narrative — of which the investigation into Flynn was but one piece.
Biden, in fact, confirmed on January 12, 2017 — after the dossier was leaked — that he and Obama had been briefed about the salacious contents of the Steele dossier.
The media have yet to ask Biden about the decision to send Comey to brief Trump — and what he knew about subsequent leaks to create the “Russia collusion” narrative. Nor have they asked Biden if he knew anything about the FBI’s effort to investigate Flynn.
But the emerging details of the story place Biden in a key position to know about the FBI’s activities — efforts that later led to Flynn being questioned, apparently under false pretenses, at the White House.
Author: Joel B. Pollak