A federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate potentially improper “unmasking” by the Obama administration around the 2016 election has concluded his probe without finding evidence of any serious wrongdoing, according to a report.
John Bash, who resigned Oct. 5, wrapped up his investigation into the “unmasking” of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn without bringing criminal charges or issuing a public report, the Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Barr — who tapped Bash to head up the probe into whether Obama-era officials requested redacted names to be revealed – later appointed Gregg Sofer, a veteran Justice Department attorney, to replace him.
His examination of the “unmasking” of Flynn is on top of the probe led by US Attorney John Durham of Connecticut into the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.
“Unmasking” refers to the process of releasing the identities of US citizens caught in redacted foreign intelligence reports by the National Security Agency.
The Justice Department has declined to release the results of Bash’s probe, though sources familiar with his findings told the paper they would likely disappoint critics who have painted the “unmasking” of names a political conspiracy.
Flynn’s name was revealed after conversations between him and former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kysliak were monitored during the final weeks of the Obama administration.
Critics claim the intelligence community unmasked Flynn to embarrass the incoming Trump administration.
The investigation was looking into the involvement of former Vice President Joe Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan, among others.
Bash’s team also sought to find out whether Obama-era officials provided information to journalists, people familiar with the probe who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Washington Post.
The findings that were turned over to Barr fell short of what the president and others might have hoped, the people familiar with the matter told the newspaper, which was unable to review the full results of what Bash found.
In his resignation announcement, Bash said in a tweet that he had “accepted a position in the private sector.”
Asked Tuesday if Bash had resigned over anything involving unmasking, top Justice Department spokeswoman Kupec said, “No, that was not my understanding.”
Bash declined comment to the paper and a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in San Antonio said he could not comment.