Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell released the names of Obama officials supposedly involved in “unmasking” Michael Flynn, including former Vice President and Democratic candidate for President Joe Biden, in an example of the Trump administration using its broad intelligence powers to attack a political opponent.
The list came within a day of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WS) requesting the names of Obama officials who had asked that a U.S. citizen picked up on intelligence reports about Russian interference in the 2016 election be identified.
The names of American citizens in intelligence reports are typically redacted. High-ranking officials can ask for the names to be revealed.
The name that was revealed in this case was that of incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
The so-called “unmasking” of Flynn has become a firestorm directed by Trumpworld, which is using it to suggest that Flynn’s prosecution was somehow politically orchestrated.
The names on the list include then-U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Biden, among others.
“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,” Grassley and Johnson said in a statement. “The records are one step forward in an important effort to get to the bottom of what the Obama administration did during the Russia investigation and to Lt. General Flynn.”
Grenell made the decision to release the information along with Attorney General Bill Barr.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) immediately seized on the development, calling Grenell to testify before the Senate next week.
“Today I received the shocking reply that @JoeBiden and many others knew!” Paul tweeted. “What did President Obama know?”
Trump repeated the phrase “Obamagate” in front of reporters on Monday, accusing the former President of committing a crime. When a reporter asked Trump what crime Obama committed, the President replied, “you know what it is.”
That in turn came after the DOJ performed an unprecedented about face to absolve Flynn of a charge to which he had pleaded guilty. The Justice Department moved to drop charges against the former National Security Adviser last week.
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