Former Vice President Joe Biden told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Thursday evening that he had not been aware of any “criminal investigation” of Michael Flynn before leaving office in January 2017. However, on Tuesday, Biden admitted on ABC’s Good Morning America that he had known that “they had asked for an investigation” into Flynn.
Joe Biden was revealed to be one of the members of the Obama administration who had asked for Flynn’s name to be “unmasked” in intelligence reports. Biden made his “unmasking” request on Jan. 12, 2017, the same day Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador were reported in the Washington Post by columnist David Ignatius.
Joe Biden participated Thursday in a virtual town hall on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. RealClearPolitics noted that O’Donnell spent “less than a minute” asking Biden about the Flynn controversy:
O’Donnell: The issue of people wanting the attorney general to resign is over the Michael Flynn case where the attorney general is basically trying to drop the case as a federal judge questioning how that case is being dropped. Mr. Vice President, what was your involvement in the investigation of Michael Flynn and the FBI investigation of Michael Flynn?
Biden: I was never a part, or had any knowledge, of any criminal investigation into Flynn while I was in office, period. Not one single time.
O’Donnell did not ask a follow-up question.
On Tuesday, Joe Biden initially told George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America that he had known “nothing” about the effort to investigate Flynn.
When Stephanopoulos followed up, asking Joe Biden specifically about his presence at January 5, 2017, meeting in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama at which the Flynn investigation was discussed, the former Vice President said: “No, I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted. I’m sorry. I was aware that there was — that they had asked for an investigation. But that’s all I know about it and I don’t think anything else.”
The FBI had already been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into Flynn by Jan. 5; FBI agents had wanted to close the case but were prevented from doing so by agent Peter Strzok, acting on the instructions of senior FBI leadership.
The question of a “criminal investigation” may have been moot. When FBI agents met Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, they were not investigating him for any crime, according to notes revealed recently.