The Corner

Politics & Policy

Twenty Questions for Barack Obama

Former president Barack Obama speaks during a rally for New Jersey Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy in Newark, New Jersey, October 19, 2017. (Mark Makela/Reuters)

Over the last two weeks, considerable evidence has been released related to what appears to be a major, historic political scandal. The declassification of Susan Rice’s CYA email to herself alone raises a multitude of questions. Yet the mainstream media, who’ve suddenly become invincibly incurious about Russia-related matters, have posed not one question, either directly or indirectly, to the person to whom all the players in the scandal reported: Barack Obama.

Since the Senate Judiciary Committee has signaled that the former president won’t be called to testify, it falls to the media to get some answers. But members of the media have avoided questioning Obama on the entire Russia issue for the last three years.

Maybe these reporters are suffering from a form of writer’s block. But this isn’t a heavy lift. Let’s help them with a few preliminary softballs:

The August 5, 2017 email from Peter Strzok to Lisa Page states, “The WH is running this.”

  • What is “this”?
  • Who in the WH was running it?
  • Was it at your direction?
  • Did the person report to you?
  • What did that person report and when?

The August 8, 2016 text from Page to Strzok  asks, “He’s not ever going to be president, right?” To which Strzok replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

  • Was the White House “running” an operation to stop it?

On August 15, 2016, Strzok texted page, “I want to believe the path you threw out there in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

  • Since the White House was “running this,” and given the recently released House Intelligence transcripts show your administration’s top officials had no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, what, precisely, constituted the “insurance policy?”

On September 2, 2016, Page texted Strzok, “POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing.”

  • Did you tell Page and/or those directing her you wanted to know everything they were doing?
  • If so, what were you told?
  • Did they tell you about the “insurance policy”?
  • The FISA applications?
  • The Steele dossier?

Top members of your administration testified under oath that they had no evidence of Russian collusion, yet repeatedly said the opposite to national media. This embroiled the nation in three years of investigations, division, and may have had an impact on the outcome of elections. Given the magnitude of the ramifications to the country as a whole:

  • Did you insist that these individuals correct the record?
  • Why didn’t you correct the record?

Susan Rice’s brief January 20, 2017 email to herself used the phrase “by the book” three times.

  • Is withholding national-security information from an incoming administration by the book?
  • Is profligate unmasking of members of an incoming administration by political actors by the book?
  • Are invalid FISA applications by the book?
  • Was the interview of General Flynn by the book?
  • Was the handling of the Flynn 302 by the book?
  • What book were you using?

These are just the easy ones. Randomly selected. More to come.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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