The identity of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, USA-Ret., was not unmasked by Obama/Biden officials because the FBI never masked it. That probably made it easier to supply details of 2016 conversations between Flynn and the Russian Ambassador to media members.
Conversations between the incoming National Security Advisor to then-President elect Donald Trump were revealed in a January 2017 Washington Post report days after the Inauguration.
“[A]ccording to information I have reviewed, during the transition period the FBI shared transcripts of the relevant communications with officials outside of the bureau without masking General Flynn’s name,” said U.S. Attorney John Bash. “Evaluating that dissemination, and determining how the information was provided to the media, is beyond the scope of this review.”
Bash was directed to review unmasking requests of Flynn, and others, by former U.S. Attorney General William Barr in May 2020. His 52-page report issued at the end of his investigation was initially classified as a compartmentalized top secret document. Buzzfeed News received a slightly redacted, declassified copy in response to a federal Freedom of Information Act request. The news outlet published its findings May 31.
Of all the requests for federal agencies to provide the identity of a person not under direct government investigation — unmasking — only one was made by a senior administration official. Bash said:
“The Obama team leaked partial Flynn transcripts to the media, the media printed them without context,” claimed former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell. “The Obama team unmasked the name as if they hadn’t leaked it already.”
Former FBI Director James Comey reportedly said he gave the information to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Clapper briefed Obama, Biden and other senior officials. “Our people judged it was appropriate, for reasons that I hope are obvious, to have Mr. Flynn’s name unmasked,” Comey said, according to a report in The Epoch Times.
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe later told the panel that he didn’t think Flynn’s name was ever masked. Bash, in his report, notes the FBI’s purview is mostly focused on domestic issues so impose relatively minor restrictions on sharing personally identifiable information (PII).
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contact with Kislyak. The Department of Justice later determined the bureau had no “legitimate investigative basis” to interview him and dropped the criminal case.
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