FBI Director James Comey held a secret Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama two weeks before Trump’s inauguration and may have deliberately misled Congress about it, according to an email sent by National Security Advisor Susan Rice that GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham partially unclassified.
The meeting — which Comey never previously disclosed to Congress — occurred in the White House on Jan. 5, 2017. It included Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Rice deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and Comey. The topic of the meeting was potential Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
By failing to inform the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the meeting in his June 8, 2017, testimony, Comey may have deliberately and intentionally misled Congress about his interactions with the former president, especially a meeting so close to Trump entering the White House.
“President Obama had a brief follow-on conversation with FBI Director Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates in the Oval Office,” Rice wrote in an email written the day before the inauguration.
Previously, Comey contended he only met with the Obama twice, once in 2015 and another “to say goodbye in late 2016,” according the former FBI director’s June 8, 2017, testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) – once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016,” Comey’s opening statement read.
Grassley and Graham stated on their websites they “were struck by the context and timing of this email, and sent a follow up letter to Ambassador Rice.”
“It strikes us as odd that, among your activities in the final moments on the final day of the Obama administration, you would feel the need to send yourself such an unusual email purporting to document a conversation involving President Obama and his interactions with the FBI regarding the Trump/Russia investigation,” the two senators told Rice.
“In addition, despite your claim that President Obama repeatedly told Mr. Comey to proceed ‘by the book,’ substantial questions have arisen about whether officials at the FBI, as well as at the Justice Department and the State Department, actually did proceed ‘by the book,’” they continued.
Rice is scheduled to testify before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Feb. 22.
Grassley co-authored the letter to Rice as chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Graham as chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.