A government watchdog group announced Tuesday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI, Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for documents and records related to a meeting in early January, 2017 attended by President Barack Obama, along with other senior Obama officials, regarding Michael Flynn.
Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that has been battling the DOJ and FBI for years for documentation on the FBI’s now debunked investigation into President Trump’s campaign and Russia, requested that the government provide all records regarding the Oval Office meeting on Jan. 5, 2017. The meeting was also referenced in an email that former Obama national security advisor Susan Rice sent to herself on that same day. Rice stressed in that email that President Obama wanted everything done by the book, which was a highly unusual as it raised many questions with lawmakers as to why she sent the email to herself in the first place.
“Obama’s infamous January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting is a key moment in the corrupt effort to smear and spy on President Trump and target General Flynn with a malicious prosecution,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a press release. “Rather than delay and stonewall, it is urgent the FBI, DOJ, ODNI release all records about this malicious, seditious conspiracy.”
During that meeting in the White House then Obama, Rice, former Vice President Joe Biden, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper allegedly discussed Flynn, as well as the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. Years long investigations by Congress, the DOJ Inspector General and journalists revealed that Steele’s dossier was filled with false information, as well as disinformation planted by Russia’s GRU to sow chaos in the United States 2016 election.
The dossier was also paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as well as the Democratic National Committee, which commissioned a pseudo research firm Fusion GPS to hire Steele. Moreover, the research firm, along with Steele, leaked the false information on Trump and his campaign through main stream media outlets.
Judicial Watch stated in their press release that “at least two records describing the meeting – a January 20, 2017, memo Rice sent to herself and a set of notes taken by FBI counterespionage chief Peter Strzok – have been declassified and made public. Sally Yates also detailed the meeting to Robert Mueller’s investigation.”
Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the DOJ, FBI, and ODNI failed to respond to identical May 20, 2020, FOIA requests for:
- All records regarding the January 5, 2017, meeting at the White House between former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director James Comey, President Obama, and others. This request includes all records created in preparation for, during, and/or pursuant to the meeting, as well as any and all related records of communication between any official or representative of the Department of Justice and any other individual.
The meeting took place just two weeks prior to Trump’s inauguration. Judicial Watch last week released mails between Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page which included a frantic exchange between top bureau officials in the days prior to and following Trump’s inauguration discussing a White House counterintelligence briefing that could “play into” the FBI’s “investigative strategy.”
In May 2020, Judicial Watch received the “electronic communication” (EC) that officially launched the counterintelligence investigation, termed “Crossfire Hurricane,” of President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. The document was written by Strzok.
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Rep. Matt Gaetz Confronts Speaker McCarthy in Fiery House GOP Meeting
In a closed-door House GOP conference meeting on Thursday morning, tensions flared as Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) confronted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), accusing him and his allies of orchestrating an online campaign against him with the help of “MAGA influencers.”
According to reports from Fox News, the exchange was marked by what was described as “fireworks.” Gaetz directly addressed McCarthy, alleging that “MAGA influencers” had been paid to attack him on social media. McCarthy promptly denied the accusation, dismissing Gaetz’s claims.
Speaker McCarthy dismissed Gaetz’s allegations, indicating that he had no intention of engaging in such activities. In the same meeting, another source revealed that McCarthy questioned Gaetz’s commitment to the GOP’s goals, pointing out that he was personally dedicating his efforts to allocate $5 million to support GOP candidates and members with the aim of strengthening their majority in the near future. McCarthy’s remark seemed to challenge Gaetz regarding his contributions toward achieving a stronger Republican majority.
In response to Gaetz’s allegations, some members of the GOP caucus expressed frustration. According to a second source, one lawmaker told Gaetz to “f— off,” while another referred to him as a “scumbag,” according to reports.
Gaetz confirmed the confrontation to reporters as he exited the meeting, explaining, “I asked him whether or not he was paying those influencers to post negative things about me online.” He also confirmed McCarthy’s response, saying, “Yeah, that is what he said.”
When asked about his feelings toward McCarthy during and after the exchange, Gaetz remarked, “My blood pressure is like 120 over 80. So I’m feeling great.”
A spokesperson for Speaker McCarthy categorically denied any involvement in the alleged online campaign, attributing it to a Democrat-backed entity. In support of this claim, Fox News Digital reportedly obtained a screenshot of a cease-and-desist email sent by McCarthy’s outside lawyer to the individuals allegedly behind the campaign.
Furthermore, the email asserted that the campaign falsely claimed to act on behalf of Speaker McCarthy and his affiliated entities and warned of legal consequences if the actions continued.
The exchange in the House GOP meeting underscores the ongoing tension between Gaetz and McCarthy. Gaetz has been threatening to force a House-wide vote on McCarthy’s speakership, alleging violations of a deal struck to secure McCarthy’s election as Speaker in January.
Under the terms of that compromise, McCarthy agreed to allow any lawmaker to trigger a vote on his removal, known as a “motion to vacate.” While Gaetz had hinted at pursuing such a motion earlier in the week, he sidestepped questions on the matter during the recent meeting with reporters.
In the midst of this contentious atmosphere, Gaetz emphasized his current focus on advancing single-subject spending bills, deflecting inquiries regarding the motion to vacate and maintaining his dedication to legislative efforts.
The confrontation between Gaetz and McCarthy underscores the complex dynamics within the Republican caucus as it navigates internal divisions and confronts ongoing challenges on Capitol Hill.
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