Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, has declassified a list of former Obama administration officials who were allegedly involved in the “unmasking” of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in his phone call with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition.
Grenell visited the Justice Department last week to discuss the issue. The list could be released “soon,” reported the Daily Caller, citing a senior intelligence official.
Last month, the New York Times reported that U.S. Attorney John Durham has been investigating the leaks of potentially classified information to David Ignatius of The Washington Post in early 2017 about Flynn conversations with Kislyak.
In a Jan. 12, 2017, article, citing a senior U.S. government official, Ignatius said Flynn cultivated “close Russian contacts,” and raised the possibility that Flynn had violated the Logan Act.
A follow-up article by the Post on Feb, 9, 2017, stated that Flynn discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had placed against Russia with Kislyak, citing nine current and former officials.
Another leak was given to the Post on Jan. 23 indicating that the FBI found “nothing illicit” in Flynn’s calls, just only one day before FBI agents came to the White House and allegedly set a trap for Flynn through a “not standard” interview. These important criminal leaks set off a chain of events that led to Flynn’s firing and yearslong legal battle.
The development came after the Department of Justice moved to dismiss the criminal charges against Flynn. Attorney General William Barr in an interview last week said that new information revealed in recent weeks about the conduct of FBI officials involved in the interview of Flynn showed that they were not conducting a legitimate law enforcement investigation.
“There was nothing wrong with it whatever. In fact, it was laudable,” Barr said in reference to Flynn’s phone call with Russian official. “So there was no mystery about the call.”
“A crime cannot be established here because there was not, in our view, a legitimate investigation going on,” he said. “They did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage, based on a perfectly legitimate and appropriate call he made as a member of the transition.”
Last week, Grenell pressured House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) into releasing transcripts of interviews that were conducted in 2017 as part of the committee investigation into Russian interference in 2016. The transcripts showed that top Obama officials said they had not seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, which aligned with the results of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.