Former Vice President Joe Biden is among Obama administration officials who requested to “unmask” Lt. General Michael Flynn after his phone call with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The list with names of those individuals who sought to reveal the identity of Flynn was released by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell on Wednesday, according to Forbes.
Former FBI director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are among authorized officials in the declassified document. The document shows that Biden made such a request on January 12th, 2017, days before leaving office.
According to The Hill, the names of individuals “who are caught up in national security surveillance” are concealed in order to protect the privacy of American citizens. “Unmasking” is a routine process of revealing the names of US citizens in intelligence reports to officials with clearance. A total of 49 unmasking requests were made by 16 officials in relation to Flynn between Election Day and January 31st, 2017, The Washington Examiner reported.
Joe Biden repeatedly denied his involvement in the investigation of Michael Flynn. “I was never a part or had any knowledge of any criminal investigation into Flynn while I was in office. Period. Not one single time,” said Biden during an interview with MSNBC on Thursday.
Biden stated in another interview on Tuesday that he knew nothing about the investigation of Flynn before correcting himself and admitting that he was aware of it, but never involved. “These documents have absolutely nothing to do with any FBI investigation and they confirm that all normal procedures were followed – any suggestion otherwise is a flat out lie,” said Andrew Bates, Biden campaign spokesperson in a statement.
President Trump slammed Biden on Thursday, accusing him and former President Barack Obama of going after General Flynn and forcing him to lie: “These people were corrupt. The whole thing was corrupt. And we caught them. We caught them.” Later that day Trump also called on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to summon Obama to testify before Judiciary Committee about the origins of the Russia investigation, according to Politico. Graham responded with reluctance about such a precedent as calling for testimony former Presidents. He cited concerns for the executive privilege and warned against setting a standard that can be applied to Trump when he leaves office. “I understand President Trump’s frustration, but be careful what you wish for. Just be careful what you wish for,” said Graham in an interview.