Former US attorney on Susan Rice email: This does not exonerate Obama officials

Former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said on Wednesday that a newly declassified email by former national security adviser Susan Rice – sent to herself on Inauguration Day in 2017 – shows "exactly what we feared” about the Obama administration's actions toward the incoming Trump administration.

He said it was a “retrospective attempt to try to justify” spying on the Trump administration.

“It’s actually frightening that there were people in this meeting that were fashioning a way in which they might criticize and eventually spy on the incoming administration,” Tolman told “Fox & Friends.”

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The email appeared to indicate Rice had knowledge of the surveillance that took place and led to the "unmasking" of then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn from his communications with the then-Russian ambassador.

The email, which was written on Jan. 20, 2017, documented a Jan. 5 Oval Office meeting with then-President Obama and others, during which he provided guidance on how law enforcement needed to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. Parts of it were released previously, but the section on then-FBI Director James Comey's response had been classified as "TOP SECRET" until now.

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Comey suggested to Obama that the National Security Council (NSC) might not want to pass "sensitive information related to Russia" to Flynn, according to a newly declassified email that Flynn's predecessor sent herself on Inauguration Day.

The section showed that Comey affirmed to Obama he was proceeding "by the book," and went on to discuss concerns about Flynn's known conversations with Russia's ambassador at the time — conversations that would play a role later in the criminal case against Flynn.

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Rice continued in her email: "From a national security perspective, Comey said he does have some concerns that incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian Ambassador [Sergey] Kislyak. Comey said that could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive information. President Obama asked if Comey was saying that the NSC should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn."

Rice then wrote: "Comey replied, 'potentially.' He added that he has no indication thus far that Flynn has passed classified information to Kislyak, but he noted that 'the level of communication is unusual.'"

Tolman said that the parties involved in trying to catch the incoming administration doing something wrong were "afraid of being caught."

"They were hiding the fact that they were doing anything in relation to Flynn and the discussions with the ambassador. It's pretty damning that this actually is not a good email to exonerate the Obama administration. It actually condemns them in terms of what they were doing."