Biden Among Dozens of Obama Administration Officials Who Asked to Unmask Flynn

Biden Among Dozens of Obama Administration Officials Who Asked to Unmask Flynn
Joe Biden looks on during a bilateral meeting between President Obama and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine in the Oval Office of the White House on Sept. 18, 2014. (Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

Vice President Joe Biden was among dozens of officials in the Obama administration who made requests in late 2016 or early 2017 to “unmask” Michael Flynn, the incoming national security adviser for President elect-Donald Trump, a declassified list revealed.

Biden made a request on Jan. 12, 2017, to unmask the identity of Flynn, a retired lieutenant general and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The National Security Agency (NSA) sent the list to Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, who conveyed it to lawmakers on Wednesday.

According to Paul Nakasone, a U.S. Army general, the list including Biden was of Obama administration officials who submitted requests to the NSA between Nov. 8, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2017 “to unmask the identity of former National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn (USA-Ret.).”

The list of recipients “may have received Lt. Gen. Flynn’s identity in response to a request processed between” the dates “to unmask an identity that had been generically referred to in an NSA foreign intelligence report,” he added.

Each person who submitted requests received the original report and the unmasking was approved through the NSA’s standard process, he said. Intelligence officials cannot confirm that each individual on the list saw the unmasked information.

Thirty-nine officials in total submitted requests, according to the list that Grenell declassified.

Former President Barack Obama is not on the list but a host of his top officials are, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

Power made the most requests, with seven total.

U.S. intelligence agencies routinely collect the communications of foreign nationals under authorities granted in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The names of U.S. persons are “masked” in such reports to protect their privacy. Certain U.S. officials can formally request the unmasking of the U.S. persons in these intelligence reports. The unmasking requests are subject to limitation and have to be approved by the agency that produced the intelligence.

Retired Army Lt. General Michael Flynn
Retired Army Lt. General Michael Flynn arrives for the Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 20, 2017. (Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, U.S. Ambassador to Italy John R. Phillips, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and Obama’s chief of staff Denis McDonough were among the other officials who submitted at least one request.

Some 11 identities were redacted.

Biden on Tuesday, when queried about whether he knew of moves intelligence officials made to probe Flynn, said, “I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn.”

Pressed on the matter, he responded, “I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted. I’m sorry.”

“I was aware that there was—that they had asked for an investigation,” he added. “But that’s all I know about it and I don’t think anything else.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that the receipt of the list was “shocking,” noting that it included Biden. “What did President Obama know?” Paul asked. In a press conference in Washington, Paul told reporters: “This is Vice President Biden using the spying powers of the United States going after a political opponent.”

Obama knew of details from the wiretapped phone calls involving Flynn and Sergey Kisylak, the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, another batch of newly released documents showed.

Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general at the time, recalled a Jan. 5, 2017, meeting that included Obama, Biden, Comey, and then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice

Obama told them he had “learned of the information about Flynn” and his discussions with Kislyak, which Yates said she was shocked to hear.

Yates “was so surprised by the information she was hearing that she was having a hard time processing it and listening to the conversation at the same time,” FBI agents who interviewed her wrote in a report about the interview.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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