The Department of Justice is not planning to release a declassified list of Obama administration officials who were reportedly behind the “unmasking” of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to multiple reports.
Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell handed over the list to Attorney General Bill Barr last week, after the DOJ dropped its case Flynn — who pled guilty in 2017 to lying to the FBI — upon reviewing “newly discovered and disclosed information.” While officials said Barr could release the names “at any time,” a senior department official told ABC News that “we do not intend to release the list.”
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) May 12, 2020
A source told Fox News that the DOJ is “confused” why the releasing of the list is under their jurisdiction. “Given that ODNI is the owner of that information, if they want to release it they can do it, that’s their call,” the official said.
The National Security Agency, which monitors overseas communications, is required by law to protect the identity of Americans picked up in surveillance, but those identities can be revealed if requested by a select number of officials “on the basis of your official duties,” former NSA director Admiral Mike Rogers explained in June 2017. It is illegal to leak unmasked information or use it for political gain.
Representative Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) claimed in March 2017 that reports he had reviewed showed how “on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition . . . details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.” He also stated that members of Trump’s transition team “were unmasked.”
Obama national security adviser challenged Nunes’s allegations a week later, saying in an interview that the Obama administration never utilized unmaskings for “political purposes,” but admitted that the Obama presidential daily briefing did contain them.
“Sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance in the report – and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or request, who that U.S. official was,” she explained.