Ahead of upcoming Senate testimony from former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the Associated Press has released a stunning report on concerns raised by the Obama administration about Donald Trump’s transition team, led by Mike Pence.
One of the recurring themes in the report is that Obama administration officials were highly concerned, even then, about disgraced ex-National Security Director Mike Flynn’s contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
While it’s not inappropriate for someone in Flynn’s position to have contact with a diplomat, Obama officials said the frequency of his discussions raised enough red flags that aides discussed the possibility Trump was trying to establish a one-to-one line of communication — a so-called back channel — with Russian President Vladimir Putin.Obama aides say they never determined why Flynn was in close contact with the ambassador.
Another massive revelation, in the penultimate paragraph of the AP story, is how reckless the transition team was with classified information:
Obama team gave Trump camp only hours notice of Russia retaliation: NBC News https://t.co/VxOM5JZip7
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) 06. мај 2017.
The outgoing White House also became concerned about the Trump team’s handling of classified information. After learning that highly sensitive documents from a secure room at the transition’s Washington headquarters were being copied and removed from the facility, Obama’s national security team decided to only allow the transition officials to view some information at the White House, including documents on the government’s contingency plans for crises.
Ultimately, the White House was so suspicious of the Trump transition team’s behavior that they withheld information about new sanctions against Russia, planned in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, until hours before they were announced to the public.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow highlighted the significance of this delay: