President Barack Obama’s Treasury Department regularly surveilled retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn’s financial records and transactions beginning in December 2015 and well into 2017, before, during and after when he served at the White House as President Donald Trump’s National Security Director, a former senior Treasury Department official, and veteran of the intelligence community, told the Star Newspapers.
“I started seeing things that were not correct, so I did my own little investigation, because I wanted to make sure what I was seeing was correct” she said. “You never want to draw attention to something if there is not anything there.”
The whistleblower said she only saw metadata, that is names and dates when the general’s financial records were accessed. “I never saw what they saw.”
By March 2016, the whistleblower said she and a colleague, who was detailed to Treasury from the intelligence community, became convinced that the surveillance of Flynn was not tied to legitimate criminal or national security concerns, but was straight-up political surveillance among other illegal activity occurring at Treasury.
“When I showed it to her, what she said, ‘Oh, sh%t!’ and I knew right then and there that I was right – this was some shady stuff,” the whistleblower said.
“It wasn’t just him,” the whistleblower said. “They were targeting other U.S. citizens, as well.”
Only two names are listed in the whistleblower’s official paperwork, so the others must remain sealed, she said. The second name is Paul J. Manafort Jr., the one-time chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The other names include: Members of Congress, the most senior staffers on the 2016 Trump campaign and members of Trump’s family, she said.
“Another thing they would do is take targeted names from a certain database – I cannot name, but you can guess – and they were going over to an unclassified database and they were running those names in the unclassified database,” she said.
This ruse was to get around using classified resources to surveil Americans, she said. Once the Treasury personnel had enough information about someone they were targeting from the black box, they would go to the white box for faster and more informed search.
It was routine for these searches that had no criminal nor national security predicate, merely a political predicate, she said.
Complaint filed with Treasury Inspector General
In March 2017, she filed a formal whistleblower complaint with Acting Treasury Inspector General Richard K. Delmar, who continues in that office today, she said. Beyond Delmar acknowledging receipt of the complaint, the inspector general never followed up on the matter.
This formal complaint was a follow-up to an August 2016 notification to Delmar that did not meet the full requirements of formal complaint, but it provided Delmar with the details of Treasury’s surveillance of Flynn, she said.
The whistleblower filed a subsequent complaint with the Office of Special Counsel May 2017, which is the permanent office established to work with whistleblowers and is not related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
This surveillance program was run out of Treasury’s Office of Intelligence Analysis, which was then under the leadership of S. Leslie Ireland. Ireland came to OIA in 2010 after a long tenure at the Central Intelligence Agency and a one-year stint as Obama’s daily in-person intelligence briefer.
The whistleblower said Treasury should never have been part of the unmasking of Flynn, because its surveillance operation was off-the-books. That is to say, the Justice Department never gave the required approval to the Treasury program, and so there were no guidelines, approvals nor reports that would be associated with a DOJ-sanctioned domestic surveillance operation.
“Accessing this information without approved and signed attorney general guidelines would violate U.S. persons constitutional rights and civil liberties,” she said.
“IC agencies have to adhere to Executive Order 12333, or as it is known in the community: E.O. 12-Triple-Three. Just because OIA does not have signed guidelines does not give them the power or right to operate as they want, if you want information on a U.S. person then work with the FBI on a Title III, if it is a U.S. person involved with a foreign entity then follow the correct process for a FISA, but without signed AG guidelines you cannot even get started,” she said. Title III refers to the FBI authority to electronically surveil Americans.
Top Obama Treasury officials among those who unmasked Flynn
Because the intercepts from Flynn’s Dec. 29, 2016 phone call with the Russian ambassador Sergei were captured by an entity other than Treasury, Patrick Conlon, the OIA director, who succeeded Ireland, was on the list of 37 Obama administration officials who either requested that Flynn’s name be unmasked or were shown the unmasked surveillance product.
Conlon accessed the Flynn file Dec. 14, 2016.
There must have been some kind of meeting that day. These are all of the other Treasury Department officials looking at Flynn that day: Secretary Jacob Lew, Acting Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis A. Daniel “Danny” McGlynn, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Michael Neufeld, Deputy Secretary Sarah Raskin, Under Secretary Nathan Sheets and Acting Under Secretary Adam Szubin.
Lew is the only one who made the list again, this time Jan. 12, 2017 – and if his deputy’s name sounds familiar, Raskin is the wife of Rep. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin (D.-Md.), one of the House Prosecutors, who argued for the removal of Trump after his impeachment. The congressman’s wife was also an Obama-appointed Federal Reserve governor.
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Neil W. McCabe is a Washington-based national political reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. In addition to the Star Newspapers, he has covered the White House, Capitol Hill and national politics for One America News, Breitbart, Human Events and Townhall. Before coming to Washington, he was a staff reporter for Boston’s Catholic paper, The Pilot, and the editor of two Boston-area community papers, The Somerville News and The Alewife. McCabe is a public affairs NCO in the Army Reserve and he deployed for 15 months to Iraq as a combat historian.