On Wednesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Michael Patrick Leahy spoke with The Tennessee Star’s National Correspondent Neil McCabe on the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, McCabe disclosed recent information he acquired from a Treasury Department whistleblower who noted that the illegal surveillance of General Michael Flynn began in December of 2015 while he was a private citizen. He also noted that not only was Flynn being surveilled but Paul Manafort, members of Congress, senior Trump campaign staffers, and the Trump family as well.
Leahy: We are joined now by the great Neil W. McCabe who had a breaking story that is ricocheting around the world. You were on the Howie Carr Show yesterday. A Pittsburgh radio station and Lou Dobbs hit the story. Neil this quite a story. Give us an update on it if you would please.
McCabe: Of all the radio stations, of course, this is my home at The Tennessee Star Report. Glad to be with you, Mike.
Leahy: (Laughs) We’re always glad to have you on Neil. To recap the story as you filed it and we reported it at The Ohio Star and The Tennessee Star on Monday. Then we’ll talk about how its been reverberating through the news media in the past 48 hours.
McCabe: Well, what happened is there was a Treasury Department whistleblower and she, obviously nobody starts out as a whistleblower but was just a senior official in the Treasury Department. Around December of 2015, she told me around 2015 that she started seeing that the office of intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department was pulling reports on financial transactions and financial records for General Mike Flynn.
Leahy: December of 2015?
Leahy: He was a private citizen then and wasn’t even connected with the Trump campaign at that time.
McCabe: That’s an interesting place to sort of reflect because Flynn was not a Trump supporter until later into 2016. The idea that this was somehow Trump-related is really stunning because now I think with everything that we’ve learned with the Comey telegraphing declassified yesterday Flynn wasn’t Trump at all.
It was Flynn that they were after. What this whistleblower did was she started watching it and doing her own investigation. She reached out to another woman in the Treasury Department. Both of them had worked in the intelligence community. They looked at it and then they started raising questions.
By March of 2016, they were asking serious questions and sending things around. One of the things she said that she learned was that government agencies that are going to surveil all American citizens and their private records have to go through a process through the Justice Department where they have to establish standard operating procedures, guidelines, logs, and different things that basically assert to the Justice Department.
Hey, we’ve got programs in place to protect the American people and everything here is legitimate. There was no such program or approval by the Justice Department at Treasury specifically for this office. And this is another thing that she complained about. And so I think it’s just a stunning revelation.
And then I also asked her, well was there anybody else who had their records pulled? She did tell me that in her paperwork Flynn is noted. And she also refers to Paul Manafort having his records pulled. So those are the two names that are sort of in the public space.
So she couldn’t really give me any other names she said. But I did ask her, were there members of Congress? Yes. Members of the Trump family? Yes. Senior members of the Trump campaign in 2016? Yes. So I think what we see is that there was really a program by the Obama people and the Treasury to start checking out these people. I will note that of the 37 names involved in unmasking or accessing the files of General Mike Flynn from the National Security Agency.
Leahy: That Grenell just release last week right?
McCabe: Yes. So there was a meeting on December 14, 2016, seven Treasury officials were accessing the Mike Flynn files. And this is before the call with the Russian Ambassador Mike.
McCabe: And then Jack Lew, who is the Treasury Secretary.
Leahy: Former Obama chief of staff who then became the Treasury Secretary. Wasn’t he the former Obama chief of staff or was he just involved in the Obama White House?
McCabe: If he wasn’t chief of staff he was close. But he certainly worked in the Clinton administration and the Clinton White House. On January 12 Lew again is looking at this.
Leahy: In 2017 just before Trump was inaugurated.
McCabe: So what’s interesting about this story as it came together is that I think a lot of people, myself included looked at this list of the 37 names. Unmasking, of course, is when you surveil an American citizen and you can’t use their name because of the Fourth Amendment because there was no warrant for you to listen in and you’re targeting somebody else and this American happens to be there.
You have to protect the Americans. Unmasking is when you find out ok, who was this person talking to the Russian Ambassador. And that’s what the unmasking is. When that list came out I was like why were so many Treasury people on this list?
Leahy: Yes. Why? Now we know.
McCabe: Well you know, my wife and I share a checking account. We share all our bank accounts because we are husband and wife. But I know a lot of couples who don’t share banking accounts. I think you can learn a lot about what someone is up to by looking at their debit card transactions. That’s just a start.
Who’s to say? All of a sudden somebody gets $100,000 against their mortgage, that’s an interesting thing to know where that came from. You see people buying tickets or a Nirvana CD or whatever. You can learn a lot about people from their financial records. Financial records are probably the most honest record of their life.
Leahy: According to the whistleblower in December of 2015 she found out that the Treasury Department was illegally surveilling the financial records of Mike Flynn among others. Then by August of 2016, she and another person who worked in Treasury went and had a meeting with the Deputy Inspector General of the time who is now the Inspector General.
They said, well you have to do more to file a formal whistleblower complaint. She did finally file that complaint in March of 2017. No action in March of 2017. And then she filed another report with the Office of the Special Counsel in May of 2017.
Here’s the bottom line, this sounds like illegal activity according to the whistleblower at the Department of Treasury. A whistleblower report filed. Other reports filed before the appropriate people. What has Treasury done with that information?
McCabe: I reached out to the Treasury Department and I reached out and haven’t heard anything back from them yet. And I reached out to the Inspector General’s office at the Treasury. I did have a back and forth in email. What they told me was file a FOIA.
Leahy: Oh, that will come in what? 10 years?
McCabe: I actually have a FOIA from the Interior Department that goes back to 2011.
McCabe: And that’s when I was writing for Human Events. Everyone is gone. The people involved are all gone.
Leahy: It takes a long time. Crom Carmichael is in the studio and he wants to ask you a question about this.
Carmichael: So the surveilling started at the end of 2015?
McCabe: Yes sir. That’s what she said yes.
Carmichael: Now Flynn had been in the Obama administration then he had been fired from the Obama administration. So was he was being surveilled was while he was part of the administration? Or was it in between when he was just a private citizen?
McCabe: Flynn had retired from the army and as the Director of Defense Intelligence Agency in August of 2014. So he was a free citizen. He was doing consulting. I know he was very active in Middle East affairs.
Leahy: So he was not part of the Obama administration at that time. Neil, we are going to be watching this like a hawk. There are more installments on this story coming I believe. So we’ll have you back next week to talk about it. Neil McCabe, thanks for joining us today.
McCabe: Alright be good.
Leahy: Crom, quite a story.
Carmichael: Yes. It will be interesting to follow that.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Background Photo “Treasury Department Building” by Sealy j. CC BY-SA 4.0.