Politics & Policy

Comey Told Obama that Flynn’s Conversations with Russian Ambassador ‘Appear Legit,’ According to Strzok Notes

FBI Director James Comey at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., June 18, 2015. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Former FBI director James Comey told President Obama that the 2016 conversations between Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak and incoming national-security adviser Michael Flynn were not criminal in nature, according to notes from former agent Peter Strzok released by Flynn’s legal team.

The page of notes was taken by Strzok appears to describe a January 5, 2017 meeting of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and national security officials. This meeting occurred amid accusations that incoming Trump administration officials had colluded with Russian operatives. Strzok was not present at the meeting, and it is unclear what record of the meeting he consulted in taking the notes.

Strzok writes that “P,” presumably President Obama, asked, “Is there anything I shouldn’t be telling transition team?”

Strzok records that “D,” or Director Comey, responded “Kislyak calls but appear legit.”

In transcripts of conversations between Flynn and Kislyak released on May 29 of this year, Flynn is recorded asking the Russian ambassador not to escalate tensions in response to U.S. sanctions. Those sanctions were implemented by the Obama administration following reports that Russia attempted to interfere in the U.S. general election.

Strzok’s notes also indicate that “VP” Biden mentioned the “Logan Act” during the meeting, although the context of Biden’s remark is unclear. The Logan Act of 1799 forbids U.S. citizens from intervening in disputes with foreign nations without authorization. The law has been cited only twice in U.S. history in two cases in the 1800’s and no one has ever been found guilty of violating the statute.

While the FBI had monitored Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak, the agency moved to close the case on January 4, 2017, indicating it had found “no derogatory information” on Flynn. However, that same day Strzok intervened to keep the case open. Strzok told an unknown individual that day that the “7th floor [is] involved,” apparently referring to senior FBI leadership at the bureau’s headquarters.

Strzok was fired by the FBI after anti-Trump texts between him and agency lawyer Lisa Page were revealed.

“Your excessive, repeated, and politically charged text messages while you were assigned as the lead case agent on the FBI’s two biggest and most politically sensitive investigations in decades, demonstrated a gross lack of professionalism and exceptionally poor judgement,” the Justice Department said in 2019.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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