A pair of Republican senators are seeking the identities of Obama-era officials involved in the unmasking of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, The Hill reported Wednesday.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, wrote in a Tuesday letter to Attorney General William Barr and acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell for them to release the names of the officials.
“One of the most significant unanswered questions about what occurred during the 2016 election is how many Americans were ‘unmasked,’ at whose request, and for what purpose,” wrote the powerful senators.
The letter follows reports that Grennel has declassified a list of former Obama administration officials allegedly involved in the “unmasking” of Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak during President Donald Trump’s transition period.
Grenell brought the list of officials to the Department of Justice last week, an unnamed official told ABC News.
Last week, the Justice Department dropped its criminal case against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding his contacts with Kislyak. The decision to drop its case comes after handwritten notes compiled by FBI officials questioned whether the “goal” was “to get [Flynn] to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”
Speaking with CBS News, Barr defended the decision to drop the case, saying he was merely “doing the law’s bidding.”
“A crime cannot be established here. They did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage,” Barr said in reference to the FBI.
“People sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes,” he added.
Newly released documents reveal Obama was aware of the details regarding Flynn’s intercepted calls with Kislyak, which is said to have caught senior Justice Department officials off-guard, such as then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
Breitbart News reported:
The documents from the government’s motion to dismiss their case against Flynn show, however, that at a January 5, 2017, Oval Office meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, Obama had asked Comey and Yates to “stay behind.”
Obama told them he had “learned of the information about Flynn” and his conversation with Kislyak, where they discussed sanctions his administration had levied against Russia. (A memo penned by then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice also showed that Biden stayed behind as well.)
Obama “specified he did not want any additional information on the matter, but was seeking information on whether the White House should be treating Flynn any differently, given the information.”
In a leaked Friday call, Obama was heard lamenting the decision to drop the case, stating that it puts the “rule of law is at risk.”
“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama said during a virtual discussion with members of the Obama Alumni Association, according to an audio call obtained by Yahoo News.
On Sunday, President Trump posted several messages stating Obama had been “caught” surveilling him and signaled an investigation could be opened.