Former Vice President Joe Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan and then-Director for National Intelligence James Clapper are among the list of Obama administration officials who sought to “unmask” the identity of Michael Flynn during the presidential transition following the 2016 presidential election, according to documents released Wednesday by acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.
Incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn’s calls with Russia’s former ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, were wiretapped as part of the bogus investigation into Russian collusion—an investigation that was not based on any empirical evidence.
Because U.S. intelligence agencies are barred from spying on Americans without court approval, the names of citizens on NSA reports are masked to protect their identities. Flynn’s name, however, was “unmasked” on transcripts of his conversations with Kislyak, and subsequently leaked.
There are 16 “authorized individuals” who requested the unmasking of Flynn between November 8, 2016 and January 31, 2017. Included among that list are the following Obama administration officials:
- Vice President Joe Biden
- FBI Director James Comey
- CIA Director John Brennan
- Director for National Intelligence James Clapper
- Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough
Grenell sent the list to Republican senators on Wednesday. “I declassified the enclosed document, which I am providing to you for your situational awareness,” Grenell wrote in a letter accompanying the list.
While requesting the unmasking of Flynn itself isn’t a crime if you have the proper security clearance, the unmasking of American citizens for political purposes is a criminal act. The leaking of Flynn’s name to the media was indeed, a criminal act.
Here is the full list:
According to the released document, the individuals on the list all made at least one request for Flynn’s identity on the NSA foreign intelligence report, though it is not clear who, if any, saw the unmasked information.
“Joe Biden’s limp claim that he doesn’t know anything about the railroading of Gen. Michael Flynn just got even more unbelievable,” said Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale. “Biden is listed among the Obama administration officials who requested the unmasking of Flynn. We already knew Biden was briefed on the Flynn case before President Trump took office and now we know that he wanted Flynn unmasked. Americans have a right to know the depth of Biden’s involvement in the setup of Gen. Flynn to further the Russia collusion hoax.”
On Tuesday, Biden originally denied having any knowledge of the FBI investigation of Flynn, before admitting to it later in the same interview.
"I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn."
"I was aware that there was — that they had asked for an investigation."@JoeBiden backtracks after @GStephanopoulos presses him on a 2017 meeting in which he was briefed about the plan to question @GenFlynn. pic.twitter.com/DvbkampOtN
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 12, 2020
What else is Biden hiding? His original denial of having any knowledge of the investigation, especially in light of this new development that Biden requested the unmasking of Flynn’s identity, just makes him appear guilty.
Biden’s single request was made on January 12, 2017, a week after the January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting where Obama discussed the Flynn wiretaps with then-FBI Director James Comey, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, then-Vice President Joe Biden, and then-national security adviser Susan Rice.
“This is astonishing that Vice President Biden and President Obama’s inner circle were individually requesting the unmasking of a political opponent,” Senator Rand Paul said Wednesday afternoon on Fox News. “This is a smoking gun if there ever was one that Vice President Biden was using the power of government, abusing that power, to go after a political opponent.”
“So was there anybody in the Obama White House and administration who *didn’t* want to unmask Michael Flynn?” asked Byron York on Twitter. This is an interesting observation. There are sixteen people on the list, why did so many request Flynn’s name to be unmasked.
Aside from Biden, another interesting name on the list is Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. McDonough made the request on the same day as the infamous January 5, 2017 meeting with Comey, Yates, Biden, and Rice about the Flynn wiretaps. Can that really be a coincidence?
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis