Earlier this week, it was reported that Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell had declassified a list of former Obama administration officials who were allegedly part of the effort to “unmask” then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn, which led to charges against the retired lieutenant general.
CBS News’ Catherine Herridge has now received the list of names who, according to Grenell’s declassification notification, “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.”
“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,” Grenell continued. “Only certain personnel are authorized to submit unmasking requests into the NSA system. In this case, 16 authorized individuals requested unmaskings for [redacted] different NSA intelligence reports for select identified people.”
“While the principals are identified below, we cannot confirm they saw the unmasked information,” Grenell warned. “This response does not include any requests outside of the specified time-frame.”
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) May 13, 2020
The list includes the usual suspects involved in the Russia-collusion narrative, such as former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, former Director for National Intelligence James Clapper, former Director of the CIA John Brennan, and former FBI Director James Comey.
The last entry on the list, however, raises some eyebrows. It appears former vice president and de facto Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had requested the information.
To be clear, this information does not suggest these people were behind the investigation into Flynn, as they merely requested the identity of a then-unknown individual. Biden’s inclusion on the list will certainly raise questions for the candidate, however, as he recently claimed President Donald Trump was using Flynn as a “diversion” to hide his allegedly poor handling of the coronavirus.
Biden also in that interview with Good Morning America, said he was “aware” of Obama administration’s investigation into Flynn, after first denying he knew anything about a pending investigation of Flynn, The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti previously reported.
Another wrinkle in the list regards whether a felony was committed by disclosing Flynn’s identity to the media and by whom. Fox News reported in 2017 that “rules state that if an American with Constitutional protections is collaterally caught in such surveillance, his or her identity must be protected.”
In early 2017, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius was the first to report on Flynn’s December 29, 2016, phone calls with the former Russian ambassador and bring up the suggestion that Flynn could be charged with violating the never enforced Logan Act. Ignatius wrote at the time that a “senior U.S. government official” told him about Flynn’s phone calls.
There are eight people who requested a name be unmasked after Flynn’s December 29 phone calls with Kislyak – Power, Clapper, Biden, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, President Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough, former Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Intelligence Integration Michael Dempsey, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Stephanie O’Sullivan, and an unnamed CIA official.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the Department of Justice dropped its criminal case against Flynn on May 7, saying the FBI’s January 24, 2017 interview with Flynn was “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”
Flynn was interviewed allegedly for FBI agents to find out what he spoke to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, even though agents already had a transcript of his phone call. Flynn was then asked to recall details from his weeks old phone call without a lawyer present and without his own copy of the transcript in front of him. He was accused of lying to FBI agents even though no crime had been committed to warrant the interview in the first place, and he later pleaded guilty to lying, though he tried to get that plea overturned. It was later revealed that Flynn was apparently set up to get fired by FBI agents, who asked in handwritten notes on the day of the interview what the goal was: “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
It has also been reported that Flynn agreed to plead guilty to lying in exchange for the federal government not charging his son over his foreign dealings.
This post has been updated to include information about a potential felony in revealing Flynn’s name to the media.