May 13, 2020

The Wall Street Journal.

More Than One Dozen Obama Officials Requested ‘Unmasking’ That Revealed Michael Flynn in Intelligence Reports

Aruna Viswanatha, Dustin Volz

May 13, 2020

Paul Manafort released to home confinement.

The National Security Agency received and approved requests from more than a dozen Obama administration officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, to “unmask” a U.S. citizen mentioned in classified foreign intelligence reports that revealed the identity of Michael Flynn.

The requests were made between President Trump’s November 2016 election and inauguration in January 2017, according to a declassified memo made public Wednesday.

The officials, which also included then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, then-Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan and others, were authorized to receive the reports, according to information contained in a memo from NSA Director Paul Nakasone dated May 4. The unmasking requests were approved through the NSA’s regular process, which includes a review of the justification for the request, the memo said.

Mr. Biden and Ms. Power didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Through a spokesman, Mr. Brennan declined to comment.

The officials wouldn’t have known Mr. Flynn’s identity until after receiving the unmasked reports from the NSA. Mr. Biden’s request to see an unmasked intercept occurred on Jan. 12, 2017, eight days before he left office.

Unmasking U.S. identities in intelligence reports is a fairly routine process that occurs thousands of times annually, according to statistics maintained by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and is requested by senior administration officials to better understand the context of intercepted conversations that are being reviewed.

The memo was released by two GOP senators: Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Mr. Flynn resigned within weeks of President Trump’s 2017 inauguration after reports emerged he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about phone calls Mr. Flynn had with Russia’s ambassador to Washington shortly before President Trump took office.

By December 2017, Mr. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about those calls, admitting he had misled the agents about whether he had asked Russia to moderate its response to sanctions levied by former President Obama in his last days in office.

Mr. Flynn’s defenders have long alleged he was a victim of abuses in the unmasking of names of U.S. citizens that are blacked out by intelligence officials to protect their privacy. Mr. Flynn’s allies have asserted his phone calls with the Russian ambassador in Washington in late 2016 were wrongly revealed and then weaponized through leaks to the press.

Mr. Flynn cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election but earlier this year asked to withdraw his previous guilty plea for lying to the FBI, arguing he had been set up by the FBI and entrapped by agents.

Last week, the Justice Department filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that former FBI officials improperly sought to interview Mr. Flynn about his Russian interactions, both because they had been about to close an investigation into him and had deliberately failed to coordinate the interview with Justice Department officials.







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About kommonsentsjane

Enjoys sports and all kinds of music, especially dance music. Playing the keyboard and piano are favorites. Family and friends are very important.
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