Emails reveal frantic effort to release claims as Trump inauguration approached
The Obama administration was frantically distributing to Democratic senators classified information in support of claims of Trump campaign collusion with Russia even as Donald Trump was preparing to be inaugurated, according to newly obtained emails.
Two sets of emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and released Friday by Washington watchdog Judicial Watch revealed that the Obama State Department was trying to spread the collusion narrative before Trump was inaugurated.
“These documents show remarkable evidence of the non-stop, unethical effort in the Obama State Department to gather and send its own dossier of classified information on Russia in an effort to discredit the incoming Trump administration,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
One of the emails quoted from an Obama official who said, “We made the deadline! Thank you everyone for what was truly a Department-wide effort!”
The email batches, 38 pages and 48 pages, show “classified information was researched and disseminated to multiple U.S. senators by the Obama administration immediately prior to President Donald Trump’s inauguration,” Judicial Watch said.
Some were distributed on the day before the inauguration.
The details were obtained by Sens. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, and Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, as well as Republican Sen. Robert Corker of Tennessee.
Judicial Watch said the emails show the Obama State Department “urgently” gathered classified Russia investigation information to spread around.
“In a Thursday, January 5, 2017, email chain then-State Department Congressional Advisor Hera Abassi indicates that then-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland’s bureau was attempting to get Russian investigation related documents to the office of Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) office as quickly as possible,” the report said.
Abassi wrote: “I told Cardin’s folks … that the process is long. Can we ensure that there are no holdups on our end?”
Minutes later, Abassi confirmed that Nuland was fully aware of the information that the State Department was providing to members of Congress alleging Russia interference, stating, “This is definitely on EUR A/S radar!”
Former Foreign Service Officer Kerem Bilge confirmed the information was classified, writing to the State Department, “Highest class is SECRET/NOFORN.”
State Department congressional adviser Hilary Johnson then confirmed “that classified documents were sent to Senator Corker in addition to Senator Cardin,” Judicial Watch said.
“Additionally, involved in providing classified information to members of the Senate was Naz Durakoglu, senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. In an email dated Thursday, January 19, 2017, with the subject line ‘Signed, sealed, delivered’ Durakoglu apparently confirms that Obama State Department officials were eager to provide the classified material before Trump was sworn into office: ‘We made the deadline!’ Durakoglu states. ‘Thank you everyone for what was truly a Department-wide effort!’”
The Baltimore Sun reported last year that “Obama officials were concerned … that the Trump administration would cover up intelligence once power changed hands.”
Judicial Watch said it obtained the documents through a June 2018 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed against the State Department after it failed to respond to a February 2018 request seeking records of the Obama State Department’s last-minute efforts to share classified information.”
One of the major triggers of the Russia probe was the “dossier” of unsubstantiated political dirt on Donald Trump produced by a British spy on the payroll of a company being funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The document was presented by the Obama Justice Department to a secret court to obtain a warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
Mueller’s investigation has obtained indictments and guilty pleas for process crimes and matters unrelated to the campaign but has produced no evidence of collusion