US National Intelligence Chief Reveals Details About The Unmasking Of Michael Flynn
Among a slew of other officials, the list included former Vice President Joe Biden as one of the officials responsible for unmasking Michael Flynn. This comes as a result of President Trump and his allies' furious campaign that claims former President Barack Obama and his top officials illegally targetted the Trump campaign and the succeeding Trump administration.
Trump has recently come up with a new term Obamagate in his attempt to accuse the former POTUS of trying to weaken him and target his main associates, despite failing to point out or even prove specific malpractice. The list sent by Grenell comprised former officials who requested an unmasking that might have recognized Flynn, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), to Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) just a day after lawmakers called on Attorney General William Barr and Grenell to divulge details about efforts by the former officials who were a part of the Obama administration to unmask American citizens who were contingent on government surveillance.
The list acquired by POLITICO comprises former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, former FBI Director James Comey, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The list has thirty-nine people ranging from Treasury Department officials, diplomats to White House officials. Grenell made the list available to the public last week.
In an interview, Grassley opened up about Joe Biden's name on the list. Grassley said he will not go as far as accusing him of any wrongdoing because all he knows at the moment is that his name is included on the list. “There may not be anything that would be wrong with it. We don’t know,” he added.
The unmasking requests can be attributed to the officials' concerns about the president's campaign and the transition team's contacts with Russian officials. These concerns led to a special counsel investigation that consumed a major part of Trump's presidency.
Unmasking alludes to a process wherein national security officials can reveal the identity of those involved in conversations based on government surveillance. Such requests aren't uncommon. For instance, in 2019, U.S. spy agencies were urged a staggering 7,724 times to reveal details of Americans engaged in those intelligence intercepts.
A memo signed by National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone indicates that each person was an authorized recipient of the information. Moreover, the accompanying memo also noted that the unmasking passed through the agency’s normal protocol.
An investigation targetting Joe Biden's son Hunter is been spearheaded by Johnson and Grassley, drawing scrutiny Democrats who accuse the GOP senators of using the upper chamber to improve Trump’s political fortunes. Johnson and Grassley deny these accusations and say their efforts are more focused on seeking accountability over alleged wrongdoing related to the Russian investigation.