The level of corruption emanating from the Michael Flynn ordeal continues to be revealed as staggering.
To qualify the headline, there are a lot of real scandals surrounding the Flynn ordeal that splinter out in multiple directions, but Andrew McCarthy focuses in on one of the most serious questions, one of which I noted in my analysis yesterday (see The Obamagate Scandal Just Got Worse, More Corruption Involving Flynn Case Revealed).
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) May 16, 2020
Despite Wednesday’s blockbuster news about the dozens of Obama-administration officials who “unmasked” then-incoming Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn, there remains a gaping hole in the story: Where is the record showing who unmasked Flynn in connection with his fateful conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak?
There isn’t one.
As I wrote in my piece, this leaves only two real possibilities. Either there’s a cover-up in which the records dictating the unmasking requests of the call were destroyed, or he was never masked in the first place. Evidence suggests the latter is more likely. But if Flynn was never masked, yet his name was disseminated to Obama (and his officials) as raw intelligence, how exactly did that happen?
What McCarthy hits on is an angle that seeks to answer that question, one which could prove to be potentially explosive.
The implication is that Kislyak was probably subjected to traditional FISA surveillance by the FBI; or, since he lived in Russia and traveled to other places when not in America, perhaps he was also a FISA Section 702 target. In either event (or both), Kislyak was interacting with Americans, who were thus incidentally intercepted.
That, the story goes, is what must have happened to Flynn. Trump’s designated national security advisor was unmasked because, once intelligence agents intercepted the December 29 phone call, they decided it was essential to identify the person with whom the Russian ambassador was discussing sanctions that President Obama had just imposed against Moscow.
I no longer buy this story. If it were true, there would be a record of Flynn’s unmasking. DNI Grenell has represented that the list he provided to Senators Grassley and Johnson includes all requested unmaskings of Flynn from November 8, 2016 (when Donald Trump was elected president) through the end of January 2017 (when the Trump administration had transitioned into power). Yet, it appears that not a single listed unmasking pertains to the December 29 Kislyak call.
Here’s what we know. There were no unmasking requests related to the Flynn-Kislyak call. We also know that Flynn was never under a FISA warrant, something confirmed by the DOJ IG via previous investigations. Given that, what McCarthy theorizes is that it wasn’t the FBI via a FISA warrant at all who intercepted and shared the Flynn call, which has been the most widely theorized explanation to this point. Rather, it must have been an entity not bound by masking regulations. That leaves the CIA as the most probable source of what the FBI eventually took into the interrogation of Flynn.
Remember, for years we’ve been assured that the CIA was not involved with the Flynn ordeal, nor the Trump-Russia investigation. The reason for that push back is obvious. The CIA is not chartered to spy on and investigate American citizens. If there was ever an admission that they intercepted and disseminated the Kislyak call, it would further this scandal greatly.
But as McCarthy points out, Flynn just so happened to be on vacation outside of the U.S. when the call was intercepted. In other words, it looks like Obama’s spying operation on the incoming Trump presidency was so pervasive that it went all the way to the CIA, to the point that they were bending the rules (i.e. Flynn off U.S. soil temporarily) to gather and disseminate information on Flynn back to the Obama administration.
Is that a crime? Well, the leaking of the information certainly was, but that’s not the only issue that should be dug into here. If spying on your political opponents is acceptable, there never would have been a Watergate. As we’ve been assured many times by Democrats and their media allies in relation to the Trump impeachment, you don’t need a crime for something to be corrupt and wrong. It’s now beyond clear that Obama and his minions were using every tool possible, including abusing government surveillance, to spy on the Trump campaign. In reality, Flynn was not the end game. He was just the guy who provided them the first major “gotcha.” Thus the plot to set him up and “get him fired” was hatched and executed.
None of this is to say that the unmaskings prior to the Kislyak call weren’t scandalous on their own. They absolutely were, as it’s highly unusual for political actors to unmask American citizens, especially when zero probable cause to do so existed at the time. It’s even more unusual to do so up until the day of the inauguration. These were people, including Obama himself, running off their own partisan suspicions, desperately trying to dig up dirt on their opponents. That’s a huge scandal on its own.
But it’s perhaps even a bigger scandal that the CIA was spying on an American citizen at the behest of the White House, showing that the politicization of the intelligence apparatus was not only widespread, but being weaponized against an incoming administration. If this were a Republican implicated, it’d be treated as the largest political scandal of the last hundred years.