Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was among the Obama officials who were informed of the “unmasking” of Michael Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser.
According to a memo declassified by acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and released to the public Wednesday, Biden was joined on the list by former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA chief John Brennan, fired FBI Director James Comey and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power.
The Washington Examiner reported it obtained a copy of the list, which shows Biden received information at least once in response to an unmasking request.
The report cautioned it’s unclear whether Biden made the request or even looked at the information while he was Obama’s vice president.
The report said a total of 16 people made unmasking requests related to Flynn, “and the list shows which officials received that sensitive information. It was not immediately clear which individuals made the requests, but those who received the unmasking information were laid out chronologically.”
The identities of U.S. citizens who incidentally participate in any communications with foreigners monitored by the intelligence community are protected. But, according to the law, officials can reveal the identity of an American citizen if it’s necessary to “understand foreign intelligence information or assess its importance,” or if the intelligence indicates the citizen may be “an agent of a foreign power.” That is called unmasking.
The memo from Paul Nakasone, U.S. Army general, told Grenell, “Per your email request of 3 May 2020, I am providing a revised list of identities of any officials who submitted requests to the National Security Agency at any point between 8 November 2016 and 31 January 2017, to unmask the identity of former National Security Adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn.
The information was released in response to requests from Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
The Examiner noted Republicans “have alleged since 2017 that Obama-era officials improperly unmasked associates of then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during the Russia investigation. Democrats have defended the intelligence-gathering process, arguing that the collection of identifying information is inevitable.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller couldn’t find evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. And last week, the DOJ moved to drop its criminal case against Flynn. Among the issues was the lack of legal foundation for the case, since the FBI already had a transcript of the conversation at the center of the case with a Russian ambassador.
Obama officials have admitted they unmasked some Americans in intelligence reports. But they insist they had legitimate reasons.
Last week, Grenell delivered newly declassified documents to the Justice Department after the charges against Flynn were dropped.
The DOJ decision to drop its case against Flynn was seen by Trump supporters as an admission that the entire Russia collusion investigation was unjustified.
A memo unsealed in the Flynn case captured FBI agents asking: “What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
The DOJ admitted that Flynn had no inappropriate contacts with Russians.
Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, believes Obama was ultimately responsible for prosecuting Flynn.
DailyMail.com reported the legal issues remain clouded by politics. A group of former DOJ officials has signed a petition demanding Barr resign over the decision to drop the charges.
Claiming the decision is unprecedented, the former officials charge Barr is assaulting “the rule of law.”
U.S. Attorney John Durham is leading a criminal investigation of the origins of the Obama administration probe of the Trump campaign. Among the officials under scrutiny, according to sources, is Brennan, who has accused Trump of treason.
Other names on the list included Kelly Degnan, John R. Phillips, Patrick Conlon, Jacob Lew, Arthur McGlynn, Mike Nuefeld, Sarah Raskin, Nathan Sheets, Adam Szubin, Robert Bell, VADM Christenson, Paul Geehreng, James Hursh, Mr. Litzenberger, Douglas Lute, Scott Parrish, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Tamir Waser, John Tefft, Ambassador Bass, Denis McDonough, Michael Dempsey and Stephenie O’Sullivan.
Several names were blacked out.
Lew was treasury secretary, and McDonough was chief of staff to Obama.