According to a recently declassified list of individuals who requested to “unmask” former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a number of top Obama administration officials were involved in this highly questionable act – including current presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The list also includes then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Obama’s then-chief of staff Denis McDonough.
The list was recently declassified by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and then sent to GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, who made the documents public Wednesday.
The declassified list specifically showed officials who “may have received Lt. Gen Flynn’s identity in response to a request processed between 8 November 2016 and 31 January 2017 to unmask an identity that had been generically referred to in an NSA foreign intelligence report,” the document read according to Fox News.
“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,” the document said. “Only certain personnel are authorized to submit unmasking requests into the NSA system. In this case, 16 authorized individuals requested unmasking for [REDACTED] different NSA intelligence reports for select identified principals.”
The requests revealed on the list include:
- Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power made unmasking requests seven times between Nov. 30, 2016 and Jan. 11, 2017
- Clapper made three requests from Dec. 2, 2016 through Jan. 7, 2017
- Brennan made two requests, one on Dec. 14 and one on Dec. 15, 2016
- Comey also made a request on Dec. 15, 2016.
- McDonough made one request Jan. 5, 2017
- Biden made one request on Jan. 12, 2017
The release of this list could not be worse timing for Joe Biden, who just a day prior had told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” that he knew “nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,” and called the topic a “diversion” from the coronavirus pandemic.
After being pressed on the issue, Biden then clarified: “I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted. I’m sorry. … I was aware that … they asked for an investigation, but that’s all I know about it, and I don’t think anything else.”
Soon after the release of the documents, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale melted Biden’s claim during his “Good Morning America” interview.
“Joe Biden’s limp claim that he doesn’t know anything about the railroading of Gen. Michael Flynn just got even more unbelievable. Biden is listed among the Obama administration officials who requested the unmasking of Flynn,” Parscale said in a statement. “We already knew Biden was briefed on the Flynn case before President Trump took office and now we know that he wanted Flynn unmasked.”
He added: “Americans have a right to know the depth of Biden’s involvement in the setup of Gen. Flynn to further the Russia collusion hoax.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Andrew Bates, Biden’s Director of Rapid Response, attempted to remedy the situation by downplaying the latest Flynn revelations.
“These documents have absolutely nothing to do with any FBI investigation and they confirm that all normal procedures were followed — any suggestion otherwise is a flat out lie,” Bates said. “What’s more, it’s telling that these documents were selectively leaked by Republicans abusing their congressional powers to act as arms of the Trump campaign after having them provided by a partisan official installed for this very purpose.”
According to a Justice Department official, the DOJ has been reviewing the unmasking of U.S. officials as part of its broader examination of the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and was taking a look at the files that Grenell declassified and delivered to the Justice Department last week.