No inappropriate activity has been found in ‘unmasking’ requests under Obama

A review by a federal prosecutor found no inappropriate activity by Obama administration officials who requested the identification of Americans whose names were re-entered in classified intelligence reports at the time of the 2016 presidential election, two familiar with the case The officials said.

The prosecutor, John Bash, US Attorney for the Western District of Texas, left the Justice Department last week for a job in the private sector. On the direction of Attorney General William Burr, Mr. Bash reviewed Obama officials’ requests for “unmaskings”, a common practice in which officials requested and received the names of U.S. citizens mentioned in intelligence reports, often with foreign officials intermittent Communications are included. Electronic monitoring.

President Trump and Republicans in Congress cited unheard requests by senior Obama officials to spy on Mr. Trump’s incoming administration as evidence of a conspiracy. In particular, he pointed to unheard requests for talks that included Mr. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

This news was previously reported by The Washington Post.

Department of Justice spokesman Kerry Kupc declined to comment.

Mr Bash’s review, announced in May, came as part of a broader, ongoing criminal investigation. Mr. Barr ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the core of the Russia investigation led by U.S. Attorney John Durham in Connecticut. Officials said Mr Bash was asked to review whether the unmasking requests were inappropriate, and intended to fold his research into Mr Durham’s investigation. Mr. Barr has told top Republicans not to expect conclusions or new prosecutions by Mr. Durham before the November 3 presidential election, a disappointment for Mr. Trump and his supporters in Congress. He hoped that the investigation would shed new light on the basis of an investigation into the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Former officials working under President Obama said they were not surprised by the prosecutor’s conclusion.


Jim Watson / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Mr. Durham’s investigation prompted an FBI lawyer to plead guilty to changing a document used to obtain surveillance against a former Trump campaign adviser. Any additional action by Mr. Durham has been made a little more public.

The misreporting of Mr. Bash’s inquiry yielded no major results, with Mr. Trump saying in an interview with Newsmax Wednesday, “Personally, I think it’s ridiculous. This is ridiculous. This is an insult. “Mr. Trump said:” I think it’s a really terrible thing that they are allowed to go away – when they say no indictment, they didn’t actually say any indictment before the election. ”

In earlier interviews, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. Barr, who has been one of his most loyal cabinet members. Mr. Trump has pressured his attorney general to prosecute his political rivals in the weeks leading up to the election.

“As long as Bill Barr points these people out for crimes, the biggest political crime in our nation’s history, we’re going to get little satisfaction until I win,” Mr. Trump told Fox last week Told Business Network.

Former Obama administration officials said they were not surprised by Mr. Bash’s conclusion.

“There was no wrongdoing,” said Nick Shapiro, who was deputy chief of staff at the Central Intelligence Agency during the Obama administration. It was a politically motivated investigation, a much publicized and misleading nonsense launched by William Barr to please Donald Trump, and now they are trying to bury it quietly and pretend like no gross abuse of power ever Not done. ”

Mr. Flynn resigned weeks before his inauguration about his conflicting statements with a Russian official. He later blamed the FBI for lying about those things. Still later, he attempted to withdraw his guilty plea. The Justice Department has asked to drop the charge leveled against him, saying that Mr. Flynn’s false statements by the FBI were not being investigated continuously.

Write Sadie Gurman at [email protected]

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The version, printed on October 15, 2020, ‘does not improve with unmasking checks.’


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