Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called for answers on when former President Barack Obama and ex-Vice President Joe Biden learned details of the case against President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Recently declassified documents showed that Obama knew of details from wiretapped phone calls between Flynn and a Russian ambassador.
Obama met with Biden, FBI Director James Comey, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and national security adviser Susan Rice on Jan. 5, 2017, the same day FBI agent Peter Strzok rushed to keep the FBI from closing its probe into Flynn.
“It’s unclear to what extent they discussed the details of the investigation amongst each other, but given all that we know now regarding the fake foundation to the inquiry, it’s time we asked. What did Obama and Biden know? And when did they know it?” Grassley, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor on Monday.
Biden, speaking during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, said that he “know[s] nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn.”
When the host pointed out the meeting, noting Biden was there, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee added: “I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted.”
“I’m sorry. I was aware that there was—that they had asked for an investigation. But that’s all I know about it and I don’t think anything else,” Biden added.
Grassley on the Senate floor referenced an unusual email that Rice sent herself on Obama’s last day in office later in January. Rice claimed that Obama wanted everything done “by the book.”
One week later, someone in the Obama administration leaked details of the Flynn phone calls to the media, setting off a firestorm that led to Flynn’s ouster.
Flynn was hounded by the FBI before pleading guilty to one count of lying to investigators. The Department of Justice recently dropped the case after a slew of newly released documents severely undercut the prosecution, including documents showing how Strzok moved to keep the probe open even though officials wanted to close it because they couldn’t find derogatory information on Flynn.
Strzok and another agent went to interview Flynn on Jan. 24, 2017. Comey said in an interview later that he wouldn’t have sent agents to interview a high-level official from an incoming administration in a normal scenario. It was something “I probably wouldn’t have done or maybe gotten away with in a more organized investigation,” Comey told reporters in 2018.
“Now, I referred to an email that said the president wanted to do this by the book. Well, what I just described to you is hardly by the book,” Grassley said.
Grassley also challenged Obama’s recent remark that the “rule of law is at risk” with the government’s motion to dismiss the case against Flynn.
“The rule of law is at risk if the federal government can get away with violating the Constitution to do what they did to Lieutenant General Flynn,” Grassley said.
Obama hasn’t commented about the Department of Justice’s inspector general finding that Andrew McCabe, a top FBI official, lied to federal investigators multiple times, or how the Department of Justice prosecutors falsely told a judge they produced all Brady material to Flynn, the senator continued.
He has also not discussed how the federal government surveiled an American citizen connected to the Trump campaign without probable cause.
The Office of Obama and Michelle Obama didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Obama told former members of his administration in a recent call that “there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free.”
Flynn was charged with making false statements to the FBI, not perjury.
The dropping of the case against Flynn is an example of something that has Obama worried that “our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk,” he said, adding, “And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”