A newly declassified list of officials in the Obama administration who purportedly asked to “unmask” former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn includes former Vice President Joe Biden and the former heads of several intelligence agencies.
Biden, former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey and President Barack Obama’s onetime chief of staff, Denis McDonough are all listed as having made unmasking requests just before President Donald Trump assumed office following the 2016 election.
The list was recently declassified by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, who sent it to Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. The senators are involved in efforts to get at the origins of the the FBI's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
The list was made public on Wednesday.
"I declassified the enclosed document, which I am providing to you for your situational awareness," Grenell wrote to the senators in a note along with the list.
The document, which was obtained by Fox News, states that the individuals listed “may have received Lt. Gen Flynn’s identity in response to a request processed between 8 November 2016 and 31 January 2017 to unmask an identity that had been generically referred to in an NSA foreign intelligence report.”
It continues: “Each individual was an authorized recipient of the original report and the unmasking was approved through NSA’s standard process, which includes a review of the justification for the request. Only certain personnel are authorized to submit unmasking requests into the NSA system. In this case, 16 authorized individuals requested unmasking for [REDACTED] different NSA intelligence reports for select identified principals.”
It also states: “While the principals are identified below, we cannot confirm they saw the unmasked information. This response does not include any requests outside of the specified time frame.”
According to a report in the New York Post, the senators who released the list said in a statement: “The officials listed should confirm whether they reviewed this information, why they asked for it and what they did with it, and answer many other questions that have been raised by recent revelations."
National security officials can seek to reveal the identity of people who had conversations subject to government surveillance. This is called “unmasking.”
The Obama officials have been accused of “unmasking” Flynn’s identity based on intelligence intercepts of his calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in 2016.
Flynn was fired in 2017 for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Kislyak, Trump said at the time.
The Justice Department last week moved to drop the criminal case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those Kislyak contacts. A decision is pending before a federal judge. Attorney General William Barr has said he moved to see the case dismissed because the contacts between Flynn and Kislyak were a legitimate part of the transition to a new White House administration.
Said Fox News, the the unmasking documents come just a day after Biden told ABC's “Good Morning America” he knew “nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn.” He branded the topic a “diversion” from the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden subsequently modified his comments. Pressed on the topic, he said: “I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted. I’m sorry. ... I was aware that ... they asked for an investigation, but that’s all I know about it, and I don’t think anything else.”
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale has said, "Americans have a right to know the depth of Biden's involvement in the setup of General Flynn to further the Russia collusion hoax," Fox reported.
Theodore Bunker ✉
Theodore Bunker, a Newsmax writer, has more than a decade covering news, media, and politics.
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