Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has declassified documents showing the Obama administration officials allegedly involved in the “unmasking” of Michael Flynn in transcripts of calls he had with Russia’s former ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, multiple media outlets are reporting.
According to ABC News, Grenell brought the list to the Justice Department during a visit last week.
While the law requires that identifying information of U.S. persons picked up during foreign surveillance be “masked,” high-ranking intelligence officials can request the identities be revealed if they feel the information is necessary to further understand the intercepts.
Former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice has openly acknowledged unmasking the identities of some senior Trump officials during the presidential transition but has strenuously denied ever leaking any identities and said nothing she did was politically motivated. (ABC News)
Information on the Flynn-Kislyak phone call was leaked to The Washington Post in 2017, leading many to wonder whether an Obama administration official had illegally disclosed classified information.
In 2017, Rep. Devin Nunes, who was then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he had evidence "current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.”
He continued, "The committee has learned that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama administration.”
Both former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper were pressed by GOP senators in 2017 about their role in alleged unmasking abuses, and denied any wrongdoing. There were reports that United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power unmasked hundreds of U.S. persons, but she has said this is “absolutely false.”
Former FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee in 2017 that the National Security Agency, the CIA, the FBI, and the Justice Department all had the ability to unmask individuals.
Attorney General William Barr dropped the DOJ’s case against Flynn on Thursday after documents showed FBI officials plotted to entrap him.
“A crime cannot be established here because there was not, in our view, a legitimate investigation going on,” Barr told CBS last week. "They did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage, based on a perfectly legitimate and appropriate call he made as a member of the transition.”
Barr will reportedly decide whether the list is made public.
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