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

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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.”

susan rice reuters

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. 

Graham also said the direction to “play it by the book” was “an odd thing” for the president to say in the last month of the administration.

SENATORS FLAG ‘UNUSUAL’ SUSAN RICE EMAIL ON RUSSIA PROBE SENT ON INAUGURATION DAY 

However, Rice’s attorney Kathryn Ruemmler said there was “nothing ‘unusual’” about Rice “memorializing an important discussion for the record.”

“The Obama White House was justifiably concerned about how comprehensive they should be in their briefings regarding Russia to members of the Trump transition team, particularly Lt. General Michael Flynn, given the concerning communications between him and Russian officials,” Ruemmler said in a statement to Fox News. “The discussion that Ambassador Rice documented did not involve the so-called Steele dossier.”

Ruemmler added: “Any insinuation that Ambassador Rice’s actions in this matter were inappropriate is yet another attempt to distract and deflect from the importance of the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in America’s democracy.”

The origins of the Russia meddling probe have come under mounting scrutiny on Capitol Hill, where Republicans are looking at how the unverified Steele dossier was used to seek a surveillance warrant against Page.

Graham questioned what Obama and Rice knew about the FISA warrant application.

“What I’m worried about is that this is an effort by the president [Obama] to basically get himself on the record through Susan Rice, and made sure that, from his point of view, everything was done by the book,” Graham said.

According to the released email, the Jan. 5 meeting followed a briefing by the intelligence community on Russian hacking during the 2016 election. Grassley and Graham said the meeting included a discussion of dossier.

But one source familiar with the meeting said it had nothing to do with Steele or the dossier. That person said it was solely focused on whether the intelligence community and the FBI needed to be careful about what Russia conversations they had with the Trump transition team.

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.



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GOP Sen. Johnson delays Covid relief bill by forcing all 628 pages be read out loud

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A Republican senator on Thursday severely delayed the passage of a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package by forcing the entire 628-page bill to be read out loud.

In protest of the bill, which had been expected to pass after a marathon round of votes overnight Thursday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., objected to waiving the reading of the legislation.

Two Senate clerks — John Merlino and Mary Anne Clarkson — are expected to take shifts reading the bill. The effort, which began at around 3:30 p.m., could last over 15 hours before lawmakers actually begin debating the provisions in the legislation.

Any member can object to waiving the reading of the bill, a procedural move that is typically skipped. Johnson said in a tweet on Thursday because of its large price tag “we should know what’s in the bill.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Johnson’s stunt would “accomplish little more than a few sore throats for the Senate clerks who work very hard day in, day out to help the Senate function.”

The clerk begins reading 628 pages of the Covid Relief bill on the Senate floor of the Capitol on March 4, 2021.NBC News

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted Thursday afternoon to begin debate on President Joe Biden’s relief package in a party-line vote. The bill does not need any Republican support to pass because Democrats are using a special budget process to bypass the filibuster. However, Republicans are expected to raise objections to the bill anyway.

Before a final vote can be taken, there will be a period of lawmakers introducing unlimited amendments, known as a vote-a-rama.

The House passed a version of the Covid-19 relief bill in February. Once the Senate bill is approved, the House will need to vote on it again before it can be sent to the president.



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Whitehall cuts NOW! 'Staggering' salaries of civil servants must be slashed, says Leaver

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BREXITEER Rupert Lowe has demanded “Whitehall cuts” coming just a day after Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed tax changes in his Budget.x

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U.S. Capitol Police request continued National Guard help amid security threats

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The U.S. Capitol Police are asking to keep National Guard troops around for a while longer to help protect the complex, two defense officials confirmed to NBC News.

The police officials’ request of the Department of Defense comes as fears of another assault on the Capitol by extremists went unrealized Thursday and highlights the continued concerns about security at the building.

The request was for a 60-day extension, The Associated Press reported. The nearly 5,000 troops still in Washington, D.C. were slated to return home next week. It’s unclear how many troops the Capitol Police are requesting. The defense officials said the request was an initial ask, with a more detailed request still forthcoming.

The National Guard’s presence at the Capitol was beefed up after the deadly Jan. 6 riot, which saw hundreds of former President Donald Trump’s supporters storm the building in a bid to delay or reject the counting of electoral votes in favor of Joe Biden.

Security was heightened at the Capitol on Thursday after the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI sent a joint intelligence bulletin to state and local law enforcement officials warning them that some domestic extremist groups have “discussed plans to take control of the U.S. Capitol and remove democratic lawmakers on or about 4 March,” a senior law enforcement official told NBC News.

March 4 is considered the “true inauguration day” by some Trump supporters and believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The bulletin also warned that extremists were emboldened by the success of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, heightening the overall threat they pose. It made clear that “the threat did not begin or end on January 6,” the law enforcement official said.

The aftermath of the attack has resulted in the erection of additional barriers around the Capitol as well as the large troop presence — issues that lawmakers have complained about during recent hearings on security issues and elsewhere. Some Democrats have expressed concern about the true level of safety at the Capitol, while some Republicans have downplayed the need for the enhanced security.

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., told The Associated Press that lawmakers have been concerned about the security plan going forward.

“We want to understand what the plan is,” Slotkin said. “None of us like looking at the fencing, the gates, the uniformed presence around the Capitol. We can’t depend on the National Guard for our security.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, however, suggested at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week that the security presence at the Capitol amounted to “political theater” intended to cast Trump supporters in a negative light.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters on Wednesday that she thinks the National Guard should remain at the Capitol “as long as needed.”

Pelosi has tasked retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré with leading a review of the Capitol’s security, and said she hopes to be able to present a draft of the plan to the House next week.

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