Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee want top Obama officials to testify as part of its own investigation into the origins of the Russia-collusion probe that dominated the headlines until it was determined there was no collusion.
Fox News reported that the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose investigation is separate from the one being conducted by U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham for the Department of Justice, may issue subpoenas for the Obama officials to get to the bottom of how the narrative started that President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to steal the election. A source told the outlet that the committee wants “former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan to testify before the committee.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who chairs the committee, said last week that he wants former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to testify this summer.
Fox’s source told the outlet that it would subpoena the officials if they refused to appear and that Senate investigators were looking at “various piece” from “various sources” for their investigation.
“This is a multilevel puzzle,” the source told Fox. “They are looking at layer upon layer, and you have to be able to tell the story of exactly what was going on, and who was doing what, when, and why.”
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One area Senate investigators are exploring is a Jan. 5, 2017 meeting in the Oval Office involving Yates, Brennan, Clapper, Comey, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Obama.
A document unsealed last week as part of the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the case against Flynn detailed a special counsel interview of Yates, which indicated Obama was aware of Flynn’s intercepted December 2016 phone calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition period.
The document revealed Yates learned about the calls during that meeting. At that point, the document said, “Yates had no idea what the president was talking about, but figured it out based on the conversation. Yates recalled Comey mentioning the Logan Act, but can’t recall if he specified there was an ‘investigation.’ Comey did not talk about prosecution in the meeting.”
The Logan Act, a century old obscure law that has never successfully been enforced, was the supposed basis for the FBI’s interview with former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The FBI intercepted a phone call between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and interviewed Flynn, claiming agents wanted to know what Flynn and Kislyak spoke about, even though they already knew. They then asked Flynn questions about his phone call, which occurred weeks earlier, without a lawyer present and without Flynn having access to a transcript of the call. Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents for misremembering things from the call, a plea he would later try to rescind. Last week, the charges against Flynn were dropped by the Department of Justice.
As Fox reported, Rice would send herself an email on the day Trump was inaugurated to discuss how Obama wanted the investigation into Russian collusion to proceed.
“President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book,’” Rice emailed herself. “The president stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”
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