With an election involving a former top Obama administration official looming, leftists are desperate to explain away the so-called “Obamagate” scandal, calling the Obama administration’s “unmasking” of former national security advisor Michael Flynn everything from “routine” to “conspiratorial” (on the part of supporters of President Donald Trump).
Left-leaning Vanity Fair opinion writer Gabriel Sherman tried to back Trump supporters into a corner over the issue on Monday, suggesting that Flynn got what he deserved for communicating with a Russian ambassador.
“Serious questions for Trumpers,” Sherman tweeted. “What is the scandal of unmasking an American official caught on an intercept discussing US sanctions policy with Ambassador of a hostile foreign country that had just launched a massive cyber attack on our election?”
Serious questions for Trumpers: What is the scandal of unmasking an American official caught on an intercept discussing US sanctions policy with Ambassador of a hostile foreign country that had just launched a massive cyber attack on our election?
— Gabriel Sherman (@gabrielsherman) May 15, 2020
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz didn’t even need to bat an eye to bat down Sherman’s theory.
Addressing Sherman in a quote-tweet, Cruz explained it perfectly.
“Uhh, he was the incoming National Security Advisor & a 3-star general,” Cruz shot back. “He’s SUPPOSED to discuss sanctions policy. That’s his job. The unmasking was part of outgoing admin launching a massive sting operation to try to entrap him. Maybe this helps: imagine Bush doing same to Obama.”
Uhh, he was the incoming National Security Advisor & a 3-star general. He’s SUPPOSED to discuss sanctions policy. That’s his job. The unmasking was part of outgoing admin launching a massive sting operation to try to entrap him. Maybe this helps: imagine Bush doing same to Obama. https://t.co/ofKNYvrRKl
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) May 18, 2020
Indeed, Flynn was discussing sanctions with a Russian official — not simply a random Russian citizen, but a Russian ambassador, albeit one that was under surveillance by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. As the national security advisor for an incoming administration, Flynn was charged with establishing Trump administration communications with ambassadors of global governments, including Russia.
“Unmasking” typically refers to requests, made to intelligence agencies, to identify unnamed officials mentioned in surveillance reports. In this case, it appears that members of the Obama administration — as senior as President Barack Obama and former Vice President-turned-2020 Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden — repeatedly requested “unmaskings,” likely to determine whether Trump campaign and transition team members were communicating with any unsavory individuals, in order to discover a “smoking gun,” tying the campaign to Russian efforts to upended the 2016 presidential election.
It’s also simpler than that: it was Flynn’s job to establish lines of communication, and it was a job the Obama administration was pledged to assist with. The State Department, although it seemed like a joke at the time, indicated back in June of 2019 that they would, indeed, help members of an incoming Trump administration make those contacts.
Then there’s the matter of the Obama administration leaking information about Flynn’s communications which is, in and of itself, a separate and perhaps more critical issue tied closely in with the theory that the Obama administration intended to paint the Trump administration as crooked from the beginning.
Fortunately, Ted Cruz was able to put it more succinctly: it was simply Flynn’s job, and the issue might not be the same if the parties involved were switched.
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