Last week it was noted that Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard “Ric” Grenell delivered a satchel of classified documents to AG Bill Barr. The exact content of the documents was unknown.
Today ABC is reporting that Grenell has requested AG Bill Barr use the declassification authority, granted to him by President Trump in May 2019, to declassify the list of Obama officials who requested unmaskings of Trump campaign and administration officials.
WASHINGTON – Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has sought to declassify a list of former Obama administration officials who were allegedly involved in the so-called “unmasking” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn in his conversations with the former Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, a senior U.S. official tells ABC News.
[…] His visit indicates his focus on an issue previously highlighted in 2017 by skeptics of the investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, specifically allegations that former officials improperly unveiled Flynn’s identity from intercepts of his call with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
[…] Former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice has openly acknowledged unmasking the identities of some senior Trump officials during the presidential transition but has strenuously denied ever leaking any identities and said nothing she did was politically motivated.
[…] In 2017, Rep. Devin Nunes — a longtime critic of the Russia investigation — accused the Obama administration of improper unmasking of Trump transition officials after he secretly met with two national security officials at the White House who he said provided him with documents supporting his assertions. (more)
March 27, 2017, then House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes, held a brief press conference and stated he was provided intelligence reports brought to him by unnamed sources including ‘significant information’ about President-Elect Trump and his transition team.
These reports included unmaskings of President Trump campaign officials; and included Donald Trump himself…. You know what that means:
1.) …”On numerous occasions the [Obama] intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.”
2.) “Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration; details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.”
3.) “Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition members were unmasked.”
4.) “Fourth and finally, I want to be clear; none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team.
“The House Intelligence Committee will thoroughly investigate surveillance and its subsequent dissemination, to determine a few things here that I want to read off:”
- “Who was aware of it?”
- “Why it was not disclosed to congress?”
- “Who requested and authorized the additional unmasking?”
- “Whether anyone directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates?”
- “And whether any laws, regulations or procedures were violated?”
“I have asked the Directors of the FBI, NSA and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15th letter -that you all received a couple of weeks ago- and to provide a full account of these surveillance activities.”
The next week, April 4, 2017, you already know the routine. MSNBC is the favorable proprietary venue. Andrea Mitchell plays the role of media-legal-adviser, her client is Susan Rice. Live interviews are always the greatest risk (see: Evelyn Farkas) The full interview is below:
There are some interesting aspects to the interview:
Susan Rice @00:51 – …”Let me explain how this works. I was a National Security Adviser, my job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. That’s the same as the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and CIA Director.; and every morning, to enable us to do that, we receive – from the intelligence community – a compilation of intelligence reports that the IC, the intelligence community, has selected for us –on a daily basis– to give us the best information as to what’s going on around the world.”
[Note, Susan Rice is describing the PDB]
“I received those reports, as did other officials, and there were occasions when I would receive a report in which, uh, a ‘U.S Person’ was referred to. Name, uh, not provided, just ‘U.S. Person’.
And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance in the report – and assess it’s significance, it was necessary to find out or request, who that U.S. official was.”
OK, so right there, in the very beginning of the forward narrative, Susan Rice is confirming the “unmasking” request(s) which can be pinned upon her, are directly related to her need to understand -on behalf of President Obama- intelligence for the President’s Daily Briefing (the PDB). This was a previous question now answered.
This is EXPLOSIVE, and here’s why.
Remember, the President’s Daily Brief under President Obama went to almost everyone at top levels in his administration. Regarding the Obama PDB:
[…] But while through most of its history the document has been marked “For the President’s Eyes Only,” the PDB has never gone to the president alone. The most restricted dissemination was in the early 1970s, when the book went only to President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who was dual-hatted as national security adviser and secretary of state.
In other administrations, the circle of readers has also included the vice president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with additional White House staffers.
By 2013, Obama’s PDB was making its way to more than 30 recipients, including the president’s top strategic communications aide and speechwriter, and deputy secretaries of national security departments. (link)
Susan Rice is admitting to “unmasking” names within intelligence reports to give her context for how they pertain to the overall briefing material. That briefing material is the PDB. That PDB goes to dozens of political people and political entities.
With dozens of people with access to President Obama’s PDB, Rice’s unmasking of the intelligence report names gave dozens of people direct access to unmasked intelligence – including Obama officials who could, perhaps did, use the PDB for specific and intentional political purposes.