Revisiting the Flynn/Kislyak Leak
And - who at the DOJ is keeping tabs on Durham?
How I found out the Flynn/Kislyak leak took place on January 5, 2017.
Before I get to that, some brief words on the “unmasking” report commissioned by Attorney General Bill Barr and prepared by US Attorney John Bash – with a focus on the call between Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Russian Ambassador Kislyak.
With respect to that call transcript, Flynn’s name was never “masked.” As Bash noted, “the FBI shared transcripts of the relevant [Flynn/Kislyak] communications with officials outside of the Bureau without masking General Flynn’s name.”
The FBI shared these transcripts with top-level FBI/DOJ officials – and perhaps members of the Obama White House. Who could have seen the transcripts? The list includes President Obama, Vice President Biden, FBI Director James Comey, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, all who were present at a meeting at the Obama White House to discuss General Flynn’s calls with the Russian Ambassador.
The Washington Post explains:
On Jan. 5, 2017, President Barack Obama received a briefing from intelligence officials in the Oval Office about the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. When the briefing was over, he asked Vice President Joe Biden, FBI Director James B. Comey, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and national security adviser Susan E. Rice to stay behind for an additional discussion about incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn.
On that same day – January 5, 2017 – the Flynn/Kislyak call was leaked to Adam Entous of The Washington Post.
How do I know that?
Because Entous told me.
What did he tell me?
Entous said the leak was from source(s) who “saw a transcript and described it to” him.
Entous’s discussions with his sources would lead him and Greg Miller to write this January 5, 2017 Washington Post article discussing intelligence reports that Russian intelligence was involved in the DNC hack and that Moscow tried to help “Trump win the White House.”
To his credit, Entous didn’t include discussions of the Flynn/Kislyak call because he didn’t think they were newsworthy. In Entous’s own words, there was no reason that Flynn “shouldn’t be having that conversation.”
This gets us to the identity of the leaker. Much of the focus had been on who spoke with The Washington Post’s David Ignatius, who was the first to report on the Flynn/Kislyak call on January 12, 2017. For example, during Congressional testimony on the Trump/Russia matter, witnesses were asked about whether they spoke with Ignatius.
The real focus should have been on who spoke with Entous. And we have a couple guesses on that front.
Perhaps it was Sally Yates. Or someone close to Sally Yates (such as Tashina Guahar). Entous told us that his source(s) had seen the Flynn/Kislyak transcripts. With that in mind, take a close look at Entous’s February 13, 2017 appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show, where he divulges that Yates saw the transcripts in “late December, early January” and was concerned about potential Logan Act violations. He didn’t just know when Yates saw the transcripts – he also knew what she thought about the transcripts:
MADDOW: So, obviously, the headline here and the lead graph are arresting, jarring. Why exactly did the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, conclude or surmise that the Russian government might be able to blackmail Mike Flynn, the national security adviser?
ENTOUS: Right. So what happened was when this intelligence first came in, which would be in late December, early January, you know, Yates saw the intelligence and was concerned that Flynn was potentially in violation of what is known as the Logan Act, which is a very obscure statute which would bar a nongovernment official from trying to influence another government`s policies. And so, that really was -- she knew that that was not something that would be pursued in court. There wouldn`t be a prosecution based on the Logan Act.
The other suspects. This includes Susan Rice. Remember that it was Susan Rice who prepared the infamous January 20, 2017 memo – the same day Trump was sworn-in as President – to cover for President Obama, who supposedly told Comey he expected the Trump/Russia investigation to be handled “by the book.” In that same memo, Rice discussed how Comey relayed the frequency of the Flynn/Kislyak talks to that small group.
Or, perhaps it was Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. He would have been updated on the January 5, 2017 meeting with Obama, Comey, et al. And McDonough unmasked General Flynn on an unknown matter that same day.
Those close to James Clapper at DNI had their suspicions the leak came from the Obama White House or Senate Democrats. We obtained this January 6, 2017 e-mail distributed to James Clapper (then-Director of National Intelligence) relating to the leak:
With respect to a Senate Democrat “leaker”, look no further than James Wolfe, the former democrat director of security for the Senate Intelligence Community who leaked the Carter Page FISA to Ali Watkins, his mistress at The New York Times. We don’t have an answer to whether Senate Democrats would have had access to the Flynn/Kislyak calls in late December 2016 - January 5, 2017.
Then there’s the potential that the leak came from the FBI itself. Or from the intelligence community.
I’m not sure we’ll ever have an answer. Bash didn’t look into the Flynn/Kislyak leak. I wouldn’t think the initial investigation into the leak was too vigorous, as it was headed by Brandon Van Grack (who would join the Mueller Special Counsel and eventually handle the prosecution of Flynn). And The New York Times reported the leak investigation - code name Operation Echo - closed without charges.
With the Operation Echo investigation being closed, there is a silver lining via FOIA. We’re making the request and will provide updates as they come.
Speaking of FOIA requests, we are looking into Jake Sullivan’s wife Margaret Goodlander. She serves as counsel to Attorney General Merrick Garland. We understand she has not recused herself from Special Counsel John Durham’s investigation, despite her husband being a witness to Clinton Campaign misconduct. His name was mentioned during the Michael Sussmann trial as one of the campaign staffers who received updates on the Fusion GPS “opposition research.” We have a very strong reason to believe that Goodlander is keeping a close eye on the Durham investigation - as she has hundreds, if not thousands, of e-mails discussing Durham and what he is looking into.
We’ll be providing an update on Goodlander as the documents start rolling in.
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