President Obama knew details of Michael Flynn’s 2016 wiretapped phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and raised the issue following an Oval Office meeting about Russian interferance is U.S. elections, it has been revealed in declassified documents released on Thursday.
The documents, that have been used as exhibits in the government’s motion to dismiss the case against Flynn, who at the time was due to become the U.S. National Security Advisor under the incoming Trump administration, show that Obama’s knowledge of the call surprised then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
According to Fox News, on January 5 2017, fifteen days before Donald Trump assumed office, Sally Yates attended a meeting in the Oval Office with President Obama along other notable national security figures, according to the newly declassified documents, which include a ‘FD-302 FBI’ report, a document used to detail interviews the bureau conducts.
The other attendees were then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-directors of the FBI and CIA, James Comey and John Brennan respectively, and then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The meeting was held to discuss Russian election interference, and also involved Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor who Flynn soon replaced, and other national security officials.
Following the meeting, the President asked Yates and Comey to ‘stay behind’ in the Oval Office, saying he had ‘learned of the information about Flynn’ and the phone conversations about sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
Obama ‘specified that 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,’ according to the documents, which showed at this point ‘Yates had no idea what the president was talking about, but figured it out based on the conversation.’
In a separate memo from Susan Rice about the meeting, Joe Biden also stayed behind after the briefing.