‘Each individual was an authorized recipient of the original report and the unmasking was approved through NSA’s standard process…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Former national security adviser Michael Flynn‘s attorney, Sidney Powell, charged earlier this week that those who illicitly requested to “unmask” intelligence reports on Flynn had committed a felony.
“I was aware that there was—that they asked for an investigation,” Biden claimed. “But that’s all I know about it.”
Wednesday’s DNI release explains that Flynn had gone unnamed in generic NSA-generated intelligence reports.
“Each individual was an authorized recipient of the original report and the unmasking was approved through NSA’s standard process, which includes a review of the justification for the request,” said Grenell.
Presumably, the focus of the report in question was a Dec. 29, 2016 conversation Flynn had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding the Obama administration’s expulsion of 35 Russian officials.
While it is unclear what details the intelligence report on Flynn contained, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said in a press conference Wednesday that they may have included an audio recording of the conversation.
At the time, Susan Rice was the national security adviser overseeing the agency who would have had authority to rubber-stamp the approval.
Rice also participated in a Jan. 5 meeting in the Oval Office where President Barack Obama, Vice President Biden, FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates discussed a plan to entrap Flynn using the antiquated 1799 Logan Act.
Of the 16 authorized individuals who requested the unmasking during the specified time frame, Grenell noted that he “cannot confirm they saw the unmasked information.”
In addition to Biden and Comey, the list of individuals who requested access to Flynn’s intelligence report from Nov. 8, 2016—roughly a week after Trump election victory—to Jan. 31, 2017 also includes several other top Obama officials:
- DNI James Clapper,
- CIA Director John Brennan,
- U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power,
- Obama Chief-of-Staff Denis McDonough,
- Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and several of his subordinates
By the time Biden accessed the database, Jan. 12, 2017, the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius already was reporting on the fact that Flynn had spoken with Kislyak prior to Trump’s inauguration.
Ignatius subsequently reported on details of the conversation, suggesting that one of the officials had leaked not only Flynn’s identity but also a transcript of the intercepted signal intelligence contained in the NSA report.
That led to Flynn’s resignation and ultimately snowballed into the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate allegations of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Mueller concluded last year that there was no evidence to support the claims.
A few days after Trump’s Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration, FBI officials met with Flynn in his White House office, where they deceptively attempted to lure him into a perjury trap over whether he and Kislyak discussed the Obama-imposed sanctions.
Although the agents doing the interview initially reported that he had been candid in saying he did not recall conversation details, the documents were revised later to indicate that Flynn had lied.
Flynn struck a plea deal with Mueller’s attorneys after they indicted him for lying to the FBI, but following the recently declassified notes showing that the FBI had conspired to deceive him, he requested to withdraw his guilty plea.
Attorney General William Barr announced shortly thereafter that he was dropping the case.
Grenell’s recent release is the latest in a spate of damning declassifications that have revealed the scope of corrupt intelligence officials’ efforts to undermine the incoming Trump presidency and smear his advisers.
A Justice Department criminal probe, being led by special prosecutor John Durham, is expected to wrap sometime this summer.