Obama admin officials asked intelligence sources to unmask Flynn

FILE - In this Sept. 10, 2019 file photo, Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, leaves the federal court following a status conference in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Acting national intelligence director Richard Grenell authorized release of a list of names of Obama administration officials who asked for retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s identity to be unredacted in intelligence documents.

In a letter from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), the list of 39 includes some which remain redacted but includes former Vice President Joe Biden, former CIA director John Brennan, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

CBS News reporter Catherine Herridge posted the letter on Twitter from Grenell. The letter says the list are recipients who may have received Flynn’s identity in response to a request processed between November 8, 2016 and January 31, 2017.

The information in the reports were in National Security Agency foreign intelligence reports. The letter does not confirm that identified individuals saw the unmasked information.

According to Fox News, the list revealed that then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power made unmasking requests seven times between Nov. 30, 2016 and Jan. 11, 2017. The list revealed that Clapper made three requests from Dec. 2, 2016 through Jan. 7, 2017; and that Brennan made two requests, one on Dec. 14 and one on Dec. 15, 2016. Comey also made a request on Dec. 15, 2016. On Jan. 5, 2017, McDonough made one request, and on Jan. 12, 2017, Biden made one request.

The day McDonough requested the information is the same day as an Oval Office meeting that has drawn scrutiny in the wake of the Flynn developments. The meeting included Obama, Biden, Clapper, Brennan, Comey, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

That meeting was when Yates learned about Flynn’s calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, according to notes from her special counsel interview which were released last week. Yates, in her interview, indicated Obama was aware of Flynn’s intercepted December 2016 phone calls with Kislyak during the presidential transition period.

The unmasking documents come just a day after Biden 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.

Biden was pressed on the issue, and 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.”

Grenell, served previously as U.S. ambassador to Germany and ordered a review of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that Trump critics fear is a house-cleaning and something that an “acting” official shouldn’t be allowed to undertake.