U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) reacted to Wednesday’s bombshell news about prominent members of former President Barack Obama’s administration unmasking Michael Flynn.
Blackburn, in an emailed statement, said that in 2017 she expressed concerns about Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice. Specifically, the senator said she was concerned about Rice’s role in unmasking members of the Trump transition team on which Blackburn served. At the time, Blackburn wrote that Rice’s behavior appeared, “negligent at best and criminal at worst.”
“Now, that characterization could be applied to a long list of Obama administration officials, including Vice President Biden, with respect to the unmasking of President Trump’s own former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn,” Blackburn wrote.
Blackburn referenced her FOX News’ appearance Tuesday in which she told host Shannon Bream the following:
“Somebody cooked up this plot. Somebody gave an order. Somebody did the dirty work. Michael Flynn paid a price. The Trump administration paid a price. And the American taxpayer has footed the bill,” Blackburn said.
“At the Judiciary Committee, we’re going to be able to have some hearings, call some [witnesses], issue some subpoenas. I look forward to being able to bring some daylight to this so that the American people will know what happened when you had basically a taxpayer funded conspiracy that got carried out by the Obama DOJ and FBI.”
Blackburn, referencing her interview with FOX News Radio’s Guy Benson, said she and her colleagues are interested in talking to Obama’s then-chief of staff and Joe Biden’s then-chief of staff “to see how they were involved and how the staff was involved in this entire cabal.”
Blackburn said the Judiciary Committee “can bring truth to light through hearings, and U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation can result in criminal indictments.”
As The Tennessee Star reported Wednesday, Biden and the directors of the three main U.S. intelligence agencies submitted so-called “unmasking” requests for information about Flynn contained in highly classified intelligence reports, according to documents released Wednesday.
The documents show that an unmasking request was made in Biden’s name on Jan. 12, 2017. Similar requests were made under the names of James Comey, John Brennan and James Clapper, the former directors of the FBI, CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence, respectively.
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson released the list on Wednesday. Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, declassified the list of names last Thursday, and provided them to the senators this week.
It is not clear whether Biden or the other intelligence chiefs saw the documents related to Flynn. The document released on Wednesday said that the unmasking requests were made under 16 different government officials’ names.
“Below is a list of recipients who 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,” the document stated.
“While the principals are identified below, we cannot confirm they saw the unmasked information.”
Flynn spoke by phone on Dec. 29, 2016, with Kislyak.
Days after the call, FBI and Justice Department officials began discussing whether Flynn violated the Logan Act, an obscure law that prohibits American citizens from negotiating with foreign governments regarding U.S. government policy.
Unmasking describes the process where high-level U.S. government officials request to see information regarding American citizens mentioned in classified transcripts of communications involving foreigners. It is not illegal to make unmasking requests. But the Flynn case is unique because the mentions of him in the classified transcripts was leaked to the media.
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