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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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Pelosi announces select committee to investigate Jan. 6 Capitol riot

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that the House will establish a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

“This morning, with great solemnity and sadness, I am announcing the House will be establishing a select committee on the January 6th insurrection,” Pelosi said at a news conference.

Last month, Senate Republicans blocked House-passed legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to probe the attack. That legislation failed a key procedural hurdle after 54 senators voted in favor of it, short of the needed 60 votes.

That bill passed the House last month by a 252-175 vote, with 35 Republicans voting in favor of it. It was the product of negotiations between House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., the ranking member of the committee.

While Democrats have long pushed for an investigation akin to the 9/11 commission, many Republicans have argued it would become an overly political process that could damage them in next year’s elections without information that goes beyond what inquiries by federal law enforcement will uncover.

On Thursday, Pelosi, D-Calif., said there is no timeline for the committee to release findings and she is not yet announcing its composition or leadership.

“January 6th was one of the darkest days in our nation’s history,” Pelosi said. “It is imperative that we establish the truth of that day and ensure an attack of that kind cannot happen, and that we root out the causes of it all. The select committee will investigate and report on the facts and the causes of the attack” and report recommendations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., signaled this month that he would seek to “force the Senate to vote” again on the commission.

Pelosi said Thursday she sees the establishment of this committee “as complementary, not instead of” the bipartisan commission passed in the House, adding she is hopeful that that still comes to pass.

“The select committee is about our democracy, and about ensuring that the Capitol dome remains a symbol of freedom, about preserving America’s role as an emblem of resilience, determination and hope,” Pelosi said. “That is our purpose. That is what the select committee will be about, and that is about seeking and finding the truth.”

“It is clear that the Republicans are afraid of the truth,” she added.

Olivia Olander contributed.

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Take that, Nicola! Sturgeon independence dream crushed by Sunak – proves Scotland needs UK

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NICOLA STURGEON’S Scottish independence dream has been crushed by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has perfectly highlighted how badly the country has relied on the UK during the Covid pandemic.

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White farmer wins temporary halt to program for Black counterparts

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WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Florida halted the Biden administration’s new debt relief program for minority farmers on Wednesday.

Judge Marcia Morales Howard, an appointee of President George W. Bush, temporarily blocked the Agriculture Department from implementing a $4 billion program aimed at helping distressed minority farmers on the basis that it likely violates white farmers’ rights to equal protection under the 14th amendment to the Constitution.

Howard ordered the Agriculture Department not to issue payments under the program for “socially disadvantaged” farmers until she can rule on the merits of the case. She wrote that the program, which is embedded in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan law, is “significantly likely” to violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiff, a white farmer named Scott Wynn.

Her order creates a nationwide injunction against the debt-relief program.

Earlier this month, in a similar case, a Wisconsin judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of the program, which covers up to 120 percent of the debts of farmers who are members of groups that have historically been discriminated against based on their race or ethnicity. Several white farmers have filed suit in cases across the country, at least one of which is backed by America First Legal, a group founded by former Trump White House aides.

“The government must not be allowed to use its awesome authorities to punish, harm, exclude, prefer, reward or damage its citizens based upon their race or ethnicity,” Stephen Miller, a former White House aide and the head of America First Legal, said in a statement in conjunction with one of the other cases.

Civil rights advocates have expressed concern that other Agriculture Department programs aimed at redressing past discrimination — as well as federal programs outside the scope of farming — could be at risk if federal courts find that the ARP’s program for socially disadvantaged farmers is unconstitutional.

In her order, Howard noted that there are situations in which affirmative action is justified, but wrote that Congress’s debt-relief program fails to meet the criteria for meeting constitutional muster.

“It appears that in adopting Section 1005’s strict race-based debt relief remedy Congress moved with great speed to address the history of discrimination, but did not move with great care,” she wrote. “Indeed, the remedy chosen and provided in Section 1005 appears to fall well short of the delicate balance accomplished when a legislative enactment employs race in a narrowly tailored manner to address a specific compelling governmental interest.”

Howard implored the plaintiffs’ lawyers and the Justice Department to move swiftly so that a more permanent ruling can be made quickly. She instructed them to submit to her a schedule no later than June 29 so that she can move toward a decision on the merits of the case.

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