Senator calls Susan Rice Inauguration Day email on Russia ‘disturbing’

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham described as “disturbing” a newly revealed Inauguration Day email from Susan Rice that detailed former President Barack Obama’s guidance at a high-level meeting about how law enforcement should investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

The email first surfaced Monday, when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Graham, R-S.C., sent the Obama national security adviser a letter, pressing for answers about the email by next week. 

“She’s sending herself an email talking about a conversation on Jan. 5 with the president, reassuring herself, and I guess the president, that this would be done by the book,” Graham said Monday night on Fox News’ “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” “I think that’s odd and disturbing because we know the investigation regarding the Trump campaign was anything but by the book.” 

While an attorney for Rice said there was nothing unusual about the note, White House spokesman Raj Shah told “Fox & Friends” the email “raises a lot of questions.”

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Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice emailed herself on Jan. 20, 2017 before Donald Trump was sworn into office, describing a meeting with then-President Obama directing officials to “play by the book” in the Russia probe.  (Reuters)

Rice’s email, which she sent to herself on Jan. 20, 2017, seemed to document a Jan. 5 meeting in the Oval Office with Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden, former FBI Director James Comey, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and herself.

“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 wrote. “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.”

Rice also wrote that Obama said “he wants to be sure that, as we engage with the incoming team, we are mindful to ascertain if there is any reason that we cannot share information fully as it relates to Russia.”

She added: “The President asked Comey to inform him if anything changes in the next few weeks that should affect how we share classified information with the incoming team. Comey said he would.”

Graham cast Rice’s email as “self-serving,” questioning whether Comey, at the time of the meeting, briefed the president on the source of the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier that led to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“Do you think Comey mentioned to the president that the chief source of information regarding a FISA warrant on Carter Page came from a paid operative of the Democratic Party, Mr. [Christopher] Steele, who was on the payroll of Fusion GPS, that was being paid by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Party, and that the dossier came from Russian sources, very unreliable and still hasn’t been verified?” Graham asked Monday night.