Lindsey Graham will NOT summon Barack Obama for questioning despite Donald Trump’s call

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The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee is taking a pass on President Trump’s call push to haul in predecessor Barack Obama for sworn testimony about what Trump calls ‘Obamagate.’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a fierce Trump ally, said the idea wasn’t practical due to ‘executive privilege’ matters – after Trump fumed about a ‘political crime’ and called on the South Carolina Republican to use his office to go after Obama.  

‘I am greatly concerned about the precedent that would be set by calling a former president for oversight,’ Graham said Thursday after Trump put out the idea on Twitter. ‘No president is above the law. However, the presidency has executive privilege claims against other branches of government.’

Graham pointed to the ‘unusual times’ as he summed up the state of play – even as he prepared to launch hearings into the Mike Flynn prosecution and the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.

A sitting president is accusing his predecessor ‘of being part of a treasonous conspiracy to undermine his presidency,″ Graham said. ‘We have the former president suggesting the current president is destroying the rule of law.’ 

He observed: ‘All of this is occurring during a major pandemic.’ Graham will probe the prosecution of Flynn, potential FISA abuses, and the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, he said.

Graham spoke after Trump called Thursday for lawmakers to question Obama in what he calls the biggest hoax in history – saying those involved in the ‘political crime’ against fired national security advisor Mike Flynn deserve 50 year sentences.

Trump unloaded on his predecessor in an interview on Fox Business after information declassified by loyalist Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell revealed officials who ‘unmasked’ fired national security advisor Mike Flynn. 

‘It was the greatest political crime in the history of our country,’ Trump told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo in an interview that aired in full Thursday. ‘If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would have been in jail a long time ago, and I’m talking with 50-year sentences. It is a disgrace what’s happened.’

Lashing out: In an interview with Fox Business Network airing in full Thursday, Trump attacked Biden and claimed ‘we caught them’

‘This is the greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country,’ Trump said.

He did not specify precisely who would get the 50 year sentences. 

He sought to fire up his allies in Congress with a tweet. ‘If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama.’

Trump continued: ‘He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!

Graham tweeted Thursday about his plan for summer hearings.

‘Our first phase will deal with the government’s decision to dismiss the Flynn case as well as an in-depth analysis of the unmasking requests made by Obama Administration officials against General Flynn. We must determine if these requests were legitimate,’ Graham wrote.

Trump called for a powerful committee to call Obama to testify about the unmasking of Mike Flynn

Trump called for a powerful committee to call Obama to testify about the unmasking of Mike Flynn

‘Our next area of inquiry, later this summer, will be oversight building upon the [DOJ inspector general] Horowitz report about [surveillance] abuses against Carter Page. My goal is to find out why and how the system got so off the rails,’ he added, referencing a former Trump foreign policy advisor. 

‘Finally, we will look at whether Robert Mueller should have ever been appointed as Special Counsel. Was there legitimate reason to conclude the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russians?’ Graham asked.

Trump in the Fox business interview went after Obama, who is emerging as a factor in the 2020 camaign, as well as Joe Biden, Trump’s presumed 2020 rival who the document revealed received unmasking information on Flynn.    

‘This was all Obama, this was all Biden. These people were corrupt, the whole thing was corrupt, and we caught them. We caught them. What you saw just now, I watched Biden yesterday, he could barely speak. He was on ‘Good Morning America,’ right,’ Trump said.

‘And he said he didn’t know anything about it. And now it just gets released, right after he said that, it gets released that he was one of the unmaskers, meaning he knew everything about it,’ Trump said.

‘And hopefully the people involved are going to pay a big price, because it should never be allowed to happen again.’

The document states that it does not confirm people named in it saw the information.  

 Biden was identified Wednesday as being among a group of Obama administration officials who ‘unmasked’ the name of Mike Flynn in U.S. intelligence reports.

A National Security Agency document signed by Director General Paul Nakasone lists Biden as among those who requested and may have received information on Flynn in the final days of the Obama administration or were otherwise involved in his unmasking.

The leaked memo immediately set off a clash in Washington, with President Donald Trump tearing into Biden, his presumed 2020 opponent, for unmasking, which he connected to the prosecution of Flynn, which he termed a disgrace.

‘When I see what is happening to him, it’s disgraceful,’ Trump said of Flynn. ‘And it was all a ruse. And by the way the FBI said he didn’t lie,’ Trump said at the White House Wednesday.

‘With all the stuff I’m hearing about lying. The FBI said he didn’t lie. But the sleazebag said, ‘Well we don’t care what they say, we’re saying he lied,’ Trump continued. 

‘What they’ve done to that man and that family is a disgrace,’ Trump said as he addressed reporters about the coronavirus.

‘I just left Gen. Milley and he said was a great man and a great soldier,’ the president said, conveying words that had the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mark Milley, vouching for Flynn, a former three star general who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency before getting fired by President Obama. 

‘It’s a massive thing. Who can believe a thing like this,’ said Trump, holding a up a notecard he indicated was a list of the information. 

During separate comments on Fox Business Network, Trump told host Maria Bartiromo it was ‘all Biden,’ and casting Biden as a key player in Flynn’s prosecution – although it was carried out by career prosecutors after the election and resulted in a guilty plea by Flynn.

‘They weren’t after General Flynn, they wanted him to lie about me, make up a story. And with few exceptions, nobody did that,’ Trump told Bartiromo. ‘There were many people, I watched [former national security official] KT McFarland the other day, I watched where she was, knock knock FBI, you know, the FBI, this was all Obama, this was all Biden,’ Trump said. 

More anger: At a meeting with governors including Colorado's Jared Polis in the White House Cabinet Room, Trump lashed out at Biden as a 'big unmasker'

More anger: At a meeting with governors including Colorado’s Jared Polis in the White House Cabinet Room, Trump lashed out at Biden as a ‘big unmasker’

A National Security Agency document identifies Joe Biden as among a group of officials who may have received information on 'unmasking' of Mike Flynn in the final days of the Obama administration.

A National Security Agency document identifies Joe Biden as among a group of officials who may have received information on ‘unmasking’ of Mike Flynn in the final days of the Obama administration.

UNMASKING EXPLAINED 

WHAT IS UNMASKING?

During routine, legal surveillance of foreign targets, names of Americans occasionally come up in conversations. Foreigners could be talking about a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident by name, or a foreigner could be speaking directly to an American. When an American’s name is swept up in surveillance of foreigners, it is called ‘incidental collection.’ In these cases, the name of the American is masked before the intelligence is distributed to administration officials to avoid invading that person’s privacy.

Unless there is a clear intelligence value to knowing the American´s name, it is not revealed in the reports. The intelligence report would refer to the person only as ‘U.S. Person 1′ or U.S. Person 2.’ If U.S. officials with proper clearance to review the report want to know the identity, they can ask the agency that collected the information – perhaps the FBI, CIA or National Security Agency – to ‘unmask’ the name.

Unmasking requests are common, according to Michael Morell, former CIA deputy director and host of ‘Intelligence Matters’ podcast.

‘Literally hundreds of times a year across multiple administrations. In general, senior officials make the requests when necessary to understand the underlying intelligence. I myself did it several times a month and NSA adjudicates the request. You can’t do your job without it,’ he said.

Morell emphasized that unmasking is not the same as declassification. ‘When a name is unmasked, the underlying intelligence to include the name remains classified so leaking it would be a crime.’

WHEN WOULD AN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY UNMASK A NAME?

The request is not automatically granted. The person asking has to have a good reason. Typically, the reason is that not knowing the name makes it impossible to fully understand the intelligence provided.

The name is released only if the official requesting it has a need to know and the ‘identity is necessary to understand foreign intelligence information or assess its importance,’ according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s latest report, which includes statistics on unmasking. ‘Additional approval by a designated NSA official is also required.’

Former NSA Director Mike Rogers has said that only 20 of his employees could approve an unmasking. The names are shared only with the specific official who asked. They are not released publicly. Leaking a name, or any classified information, is illegal.

HOW OFTEN ARE NAMES UNMASKED?

The number of unmasking requests began being released to the public in response to recommendations in 2014 from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

There were 9,217 unmasking requests in the 12-month period between September 2015 and August 2016, the first period in which numbers are publicly available. The period was during the latter years of the Obama administration.

The number rose during the Trump administration. The 9,529 requests in 2017 grew to 16,721 in 2018 and 10,012 last year.

McFarland had previously told Fox she was ‘ambushed’ as part of a ‘setup’ by the FBI. 

‘These people were corrupt, the whole thing was corrupt, and we caught them, we caught them. And what you saw just now, I watched Biden yesterday he could barely speak, he was on Good Morning America right? He said he didn’t know anything about it, and now it just gets released right after he said that. It gets released that he was one of the unmaskers. Meaning he knew everything about it, so he lied to your friend George Stephanopoulos.’ 

McFarland, the former deputy national  told a senator during he confirmation process to an NSC post she was unaware of Flynn’s contacts with the Russian ambassador. But she was revealed to have written an email that said ‘General Flynn is talking to the Russian ambassador this evening’ on December 29, when President Obama imposed sanctions on Russia.

The new unmasking document appears to reveal which official or officials ordered Flynn’s name be ‘unmasked’ from intelligence reports, although it also includes hedging language. U.S. citizens have their names blacked out in such reports, although certain officials have the authority to unseal the information.

Trump pointed to Sunday comments by Biden that he didn’t know details of the Flynn prosecution. ‘He said he knows nothing about anything,’ Trump said. ‘And then it gets released today that he’s the big unmasker.’ 

In Biden’s case, he gained access to the documents on January 12, 2016 – a little over a week before he left office.

He is listed among a group of ‘recipients who may have received Lt. Gen. Flynn’s identity in response to a request processed between 8 November 2016 and 31 January 2017’ to unmask an identity to unmask a name in an NSA intelligence report. 

But the memo also refers to Biden as among a group of ‘principals’ – although it still stops short of confirming he ever saw the information.  

‘While the principals are identified below, we cannot confirm they saw the unmasked information. This response does not include any requests outside of the specified time-frame,’ according to the memo.

Flynn’s calls with former Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak got picked up by U.S. intelligence intercepts during the transition, and became part of the Russia probe.

Flynn would later plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his undisclosed Russia contacts – although the Justice Department last week took the extraordinary move of seeking to drop the case. A federal judge is awaiting ‘friend of the court’ documents relating to the controversial case. 

Trump’s outbirst came amid another signal Wednesday that Flynn’s case was far from over. Judge Emmet Sullivan has appointed an outside retired judge, John Gleeson, to provide arguments against the government’s latest position dropping the charges against Flynn. Gleeson will also be charged with exploring whether Flynn should face perjury charges – a felony. 

Trump said he wouldn’t discuss a potential pardon for Flynn. ‘I won’t talk about that but he’s going to be okay,’ Trump told reporters.   

Under unmasking – which became a heated topic during the House Intelligence Committee’s own Russia probe – the process begins when government officials are provided access to documents with classified information blacked out.

Certain senior government officials are granted the authority to seek ‘unmasking’ of individuals whose names are blacked out. Names are obscured to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens. To do so, they must put in a request to the classifying authority – in this case, the National Security Agency, which picks up information through a wide net of electronic surveillance.  

Flynn's conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. got picked up by U.S. intelligence

Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. got picked up by U.S. intelligence

A newly declassified memo lists officials who submitted requests to the NSA to unmask Gen. Mike Flynn in intelligence documents

A newly declassified memo lists officials who submitted requests to the NSA to unmask Gen. Mike Flynn in intelligence documents

It listed those who 'may have received' Flynn's identity

It listed those who ‘may have received’ Flynn’s identity

Lindsey Graham will NOT summon Barack Obama for questioning despite Donald Trump's call 1

Biden's name appears last on the chronological list

Biden’s name appears last on the chronological list

Grenell declassified the document last week and provided it to a pair of Republican senators for their 'situation awareness'

Grenell declassified the document last week and provided it to a pair of Republican senators for their ‘situation awareness’

Such requests are relatively routine – and are meant to provide a fuller understanding of the document at hand. However at the time of seeking an unmasking, the U.S. official does not know the identity of the ‘masked’ person. 

If the request clears the agency’s review process and is justified, the requesting official is provided access to the information. The government records who makes such requests and when, providing the opportunity to look back after the fact. 

‘Each individual was an authorized recipient of the original report and the unmasking was approved through NSA’s standard process, which includes a review of the justification for the request,’ the document said, indicating the spy agency signed off on the disclosures after a review.

The memo was ordered declassified by acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell. 

Grenell provided the information to Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley and Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson for what he wrote was their ‘situational awareness.’  He says he issued the order May 8 of this year. Trump named Grenell to his post in February.

The letter to the senators was dated May 13, the same day it was released. 

According to intelligence community reporting required by the surveillance reauthorization laws, the NSA unmasked 10,012 U.S. persons in the 2019 calendar year.

In 2017, the year Flynn was unmasked, he was one of 9,529 U.S. persons who were unmasked. 

According to the DNI report, after an intelligence report is distributed containing masking, ‘other federal agencies may request that the masked information in the report be revealed or ‘unmasked.”

It continues: ‘The requested identity information is released only if the requesting recipient has a ‘need to know’ the identity of the U.S. person and if the dissemination of the U.S. person’s identity would be consistent with the applicable legal authorities.’

Former FBI Director James Comey is among those officials named on the unmasking document. FBI agents were investigating Flynn

Former FBI Director James Comey is among those officials named on the unmasking document. FBI agents were investigating Flynn

Former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough is listed as making a January 5, 2017 unmasking request about Flynn

Former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough is listed as making a January 5, 2017 unmasking request about Flynn

‘I knew nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,’ Biden said when asked about Flynn’s prosecution on ABC’s ‘This Week’ Sunday. 

‘This is all about diverting attention from the horrible way in which he has acted,’ Biden said of President Trump. ‘We don’t have coronavirus because of him, but we have the devastating impact of it because of his lack of a policy, because of his lack of action. It’s all about diversion.’

Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement: ‘Donald Trump’s attempt at dishonest media manipulation to distract from his response to the worst public health crisis in 100 years has backfired. These documents simply indicate the breadth and depth of concern across the American government – including among career officials – over intelligence reports of Michael Flynn’s attempts to undermine ongoing American national security policy through discussions with Russian officials or other foreign representatives.’

Bates continued: ‘Importantly, none of these individuals could have known Flynn’s identity beforehand. 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. What’s more, it’s telling that these documents were selectively leaked by Republicans abusing their congressional powers to act as arms of the Trump campaign after having them provided by a partisan official installed for this very purpose. The only people with questions to answer are Grenell, Sen. Grassley, and Sen. Johnson for their gross politicization of the intelligence process.’

The memo connects numerous other officials to the unmasking. Former NSC spokesman Ned Price noted it included career CIA station chiefs and chiefs of mission. Others identified by the memo include former FBI Director James Comey, U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, U.S. ambassador to Italy John Phillips, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and U.S. ambassador to Turkey John Bass. 

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Trump ally who sits on a permanent subcommittee on investigations, told Fox News Biden should be forced to answer questions on the unmasking.

‘He needs to be questioned on this because we can’t elevate someone to the president who is willing to use the intelligence community to spy on his political opponents. That should be a deal-killer.’

‘What kind of person eavesdrops,’ Paul said. ‘Is that something that we think is a legitimate function of government to eavesdrop on your opponents, without a warrant?’

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, indicated he wants to pursue the unmasking issue further.

‘I specifically want to know how many unmasking requests were made, if any, beyond General Flynn regarding members of the Trump campaign team, family, or associates,’ he said. 

WHO’S WHO IN THE FLYNN UNMASKING FILES: FROM THE VP TO A CIA STATION CHIEF AND FOUR AMBASSADORS

THE TOP OBAMA OFFICIALS 

Joe Biden, Vice President

Lindsey Graham will NOT summon Barack Obama for questioning despite Donald Trump's call 3

His request: January 10

Why he would have asked: Unknown. Biden already knew that Flynn was under investigation by the FBI by this date

What he has said about it: Told GMA that he knew Flynn was being investigated but that he knew nothing about him being prosecuted. His campaign said that the unmasking requests showed ‘deep concern’ across the intelligence community about Flynn’s talks with foreign officials 

Denis McDonough, White House Chief of Staff

His request: January 6

Why he would have asked: Unknown

What he has said about it: Has passed no comment 

Samantha Power, Ambassador to the United Nations

Lindsey Graham will NOT summon Barack Obama for questioning despite Donald Trump's call 5

Her requests: Power asked for unmaskings in intelligence reports which featured Flynn’s name on November 30, December 2, December 7, twice on December 16, December 23 and January 11. Only one was after Flynn’s call to Sergei Kislyak which he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about

Why she would have asked: Power was a member of the National Security Council as well as ambassador to the U.N.

What she has said about it: Told the House Intel Committee that she had not heard the term ‘unmasking’ until their 2017 inquiry and that she asked intelligence briefers questions to help her understanding of the intelligence being presented to her. Also said that she did not recognize the large total number of all unmaskings recorded as being requested by her

James Comey, FBI Director

His request: December 15

Why he would have asked: Comey had to ask the NSA to unmask the product of its own intercepted calls

What he has said about it: Nothing directly but has repeatedly defended his conduct as FBI director 

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence

His requests: Clapper asked for unmaskings which led to Flynn’s name on December 2, December 7 and January 7 – so only one was after the Kislyak call

Why he would have asked: DNIs have access to all intelligence reports and by statute are part of the National Security Council but has to seek permission for names to be unmasked

What he has said about it: Has previously said he made such requests on average a ‘couple of times a week’

John Brennan, CIA Director  

His requests: December 14 and 15

Why he would have asked: Brennan would have seen Flynn’s name in any CIA intelligence but the NSA is a separate agency so to find out who is named in intercepted communications, Brennan has to ask NSA permission

What he has said about it: Declined to comment 

Jack Lew, Treasury Secretary

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His requests: December 14, January 12

Why he would have asked: The Treasury Secretary is a member of the National Security Council

What he has said about it: Has not commented 

Sarah Raskin, Deputy Treasury Secretary

Her request: December 14

Why she would have asked: Unknown but was on same date as other Treasury officials, including career Treasury intelligence officials. Her husband Jamie Raskin is a Democratic congressman 

Nathan Sheets, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs

His request: December 14

Why he would have asked: Unknown but was on same date as other Treasury officials, including career Treasury intelligence officials 

Adam Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence

His request: December 14 

Why he would have asked: Unknown but was on same date as other Treasury officials, including career Treasury intelligence officials 

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, deputy energy secretary

Her request: December 15

Why she would have asked: UnknownThe Department of Energy’s intelligence-gathering focuses on nuclear issues. Flynn was involved in a scheme to try to sell U.S. nuclear energy expertise to Saudi Arabia

THE DIPLOMATS 

John Teft, ambassador to Russia. Career foreign service officer

His request: December 16

Why he would have asked: Unknown. Ambassadors are routinely sent intelligence reports concerning relations with the country where they are posted

John Bass, ambassador to Turkey. Career foreign service officer

His request: December 28

Why he would have asked: Unknown. Ambassadors are routinely sent intelligence reports concerning relations with the country where they are posted. Flynn was later revealed to be secretly lobbying for Turkish interests

John Phillips, Obama’s ambassador to Italy and San Marino. Political appointee

His request: December 6, 2016

Why he would have asked: Unknown

Kelly Degnan, Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. embassy in Rome. Career diplomat 

Her request: December 6, 2016

Why she would have asked: Unknown 

Douglas Lute, U.S. Permanent Representative (meaning ambassador) to NATO. Retired Army general

His request: December 15

Why he would have asked: Unknown. Series of U.S. officials at NATO made request on same day suggesting Flynn’s name was in an intercepted call which mentioned the alliance

Lee Litzenberger, Deputy Chief of U.S. Mission to NATO. Career diplomat

His request: December 15

Unknown. One of a series of U.S. officials at NATO to make request on same day

THE CAREER INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS

Patrick Conlon, Office of Intelligence Analysis at the Treasury

His request: December 14, 2016

Why he would have asked: Unknown. The OIA looks at targets for sanctions, international large-scale money-laundering, terrorist finance and drug cartels among other financial threats

Arthur ‘Danny’ McGlynn, acting assistant Treasury Secretary. Career civil servant who oversaw its OIA and also the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) which looks for individual suspicious transactions

His request: December 14 

Why he would have asked: Unknown. Series of Treasury officials made request on same date

Mike Neufeld, acting deputy assistant Treasury Secretary. Career civil servant 

His request: December 14

Why he would have asked: Unknown but his boss was McGlynn

Michael Dempsey, deputy director of national intelligence for intelligence integration

His request: January 7

Why he would have asked: Unknown. This was the day after the most senior intelligence officials briefed Donald Trump on Russia at Trump Tower and James Comey told him about the notorious ‘golden showers’ dossier

Stephanie O’Sullivan, principal deputy director of national intelligence

Her request: January 7

Why she would have asked: Unknown 

THE MILITARY AND PENTAGON OFFICIALS

Vice Admiral John Christenson, United States Military Representative to the NATO Military Committee

His request: December 15

Why he would have asked: Unknown. Series of U.S. officials at NATO made request on same day suggesting Flynn’s name was in an intercepted call which mentioned the alliance

Lt. Col Paul Geehreng, policy advisor for Russia to the defense advisor to the U.S. mission to NATO

His request: December 15

Why he would have asked: Unknown. One of a series of U.S. officials at NATO to make request on same day 

James Hursh, deputy defense advisor to the U.S. mission to NATO

His request: December 15

Why he would have asked: Unknown. One of a series of U.S. officials at NATO to make request on same day 

Robert Bell, defense advisor to the U.S. ambassador to NATO. Career civil servant

His request: December 15

Why he would have asked: Unknown. One of a series of U.S. officials at NATO to make request on same day 

Scott Parrish, political officer at U.S. mission to NATO

His request: December 15

Why he would have asked: Unknown. One of a series of U.S. officials at NATO to make request on same day 

Tamir Waser, political adviser, U.S. mission to NATO

His request: December 15

Why he would have asked: Unknown. One of a series of U.S. officials at NATO to make request on same day 

THE MYSTERY OFFICIALS WHO ARE LIKELY SPIES

‘Chief Syria Group.’ Likely to be part of a CIA-led intelligence group covering the civil-war torn country

Their request: Two members of the group made request on December 15, same day as U.S. officials at NATO

Why they would have asked: Unknown

‘Deputy Assistant Director of the NEMC.’ Appears to be an error and refers to the NMEC, or National Media Exploitation Center. It is responsible for the processing, translation, analysis and dissemination of intercepted documents and electronic material and is part of the office of the Director of National Intelligence

Their request: December 15 

Why they would have asked: Unknown 

U.S. NATO REDACTED advisor to Ambassador Douglas Lute.’ Appears likely to be the CIA or DIA aide to the then U.S. ambassador to NOTA

Their request: December 15

Why they would have asked: Unknown. One of a series of U.S. officials at NATO to make request on same day

DOE-IN Executive Briefer.’ Likely to be the Department of Energy intelligence officials who briefed the Secretary of Energy. The Department of Energy’s intelligence-gathering focuses on nuclear issues

Their request: Two briefers made a request December 15

Why they would have asked: Unknown. Flynn was involved in a scheme to try to sell U.S. nuclear energy expertise to Saudi Arabia

‘COS.’ Likely to be a CIA Chief of Station, meaning the agent in charge of all U.S. spying in one foreign country. A DCOS – deputy chief of station – is also named

Their request: December 16, by a chief and a deputy chief

Why they would have asked: Unknown. The country or countries they spy in is redacted

‘CMO.’ Likely to be a CIA ‘collection management officer’ who assess intelligence gathered in the field or electronically and direct ways to gather it

Their request: Two CMOs made requests on December 16

Why they would have asked: Unknown  

THE MIKE FLYNN SAGA: HOW TRUMP APPOINTEE BECAME INCENDIARY STORY

Mike Pence was a career Army intelligence officer who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and was still in uniform as a three-star general when he became Barack Obama’s head of Defense Intelligence in July 2012.

But he fell out badly with the Obama administration, was forced out in July 2014 and moved into private intelligence consulting.  

Lindsey Graham will NOT summon Barack Obama for questioning despite Donald Trump's call 9

2015

December 10: Flynn is paid to travel to Moscow and sits beside Vladimir Putin at dinner celebrating propaganda outlet RT (right). His consulting business has Russian clients

2016

February: Flynn signs up to provide national security advice to the Trump campaign; in the next few months he is floated as a possible running mate

July 20 : Flynn leads ‘lock her up’ chants at the Republican National Convention and claims Obama concealed the actions of Osama bin Laden

July 31: FBI open counter-intelligence investigation Crossfire Hurricane into group of Trump aides, including Flynn, for possible Russian influence. In 2014 an FBI informer had told agents he saw Flynn spending time at a dinner in the UK with a Russian woman with ties to Kremlin intelligence; the information is included in their investigation.  Flynn is code-named Crossfire Razor

November 4: Trump wins the election, and meets Obama who advises him not to hire Flynn. Trump ignores the advice and makes him national security adviser designate

November 30: Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, makes the first of what will be 48 requests by Obama and Obama-eras officials to ‘unmask’ a redaction from intelligence reports which covers up Flynn’s name 

December 2016

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Flynn meets Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak (right)  at Trump Tower and exchanges calls and messages throughout the month. 

December 29: Hours after Obama announces sanctions on Russia for election interference, they speak and Flynn says it will be ‘reviewed’ when Trump takes power. The call is heard by intelligence agents who monitor Kisylak’s calls and details are included in intelligence reports. The next day Putin says Russia won’t retaliate for the sanctions

2017

January 4: FBI drafts report saying there is ‘no derogatory information on RAZOR [Flynn].’ But 20 minutes later FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok tells case agent ‘don’t close RAZOR,’ and ‘7th floor involved’ meaning FBI leadership. He also emails lover Lisa Page, a senior FBI lawyer, about the Logan Act – a never-enforced 1799 law banning private people from interfering in foreign relations. ‘Razor still open,’ he writes and calls news ‘serendipitously good’. ‘Phew, but yeah, that’s amazing that he is still open. Good I guess,’ Page replies. Strzok respond: ‘Yeah, our utter incompetence actually helps us. 20% of the time I’m guessing :)’

January 5: Obama holds Oval Office briefing on Russian election interference with Joe Biden, CIA director John Brennan, FBI director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and deputy attorney general Sally Yates. He asks Comey and Yates to stay behind and says he has ‘learned of the information’ about Flynn’s call to Kislyak. Comey mentions the Logan Act

January 6: Obama’s top intel figures – Brennan, Clapper and Comey – give the Trump team including Trump a briefing on Russia at Trump Tower 

January 10: Joe Biden is most senior Obama official to request an ‘unmasking’ of an intelligence report which reveals Flynn’s name

January 12: Bombshell Washington Post report reveals Flynn’s call to Kislyak on December 29, ‘according to a senior U.S. government official’ saying: ‘What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?’ It mentions the Logan Act

January 14: Flynn tells Pence he did not discuss sanctions; in coming days Trump officials repeat this on television – including Mike Pence the following day

January 20: Trump is inaugurated; Flynn becomes national security advisor

January 22: The Wall Street Journal reveals Flynn is subject to a counter-intelligence investigation over links to Russia

January 23: Strzok and Andrew McCabe the FBI Deputy director exchange messages planning to interview Flynn

January 24: Two FBI agents – Peter Strzok and one whose name remains secret – go to the White House and interview Flynn in his West Wing office. Their notes say he denies talking about sanctions with Kislyak and said ‘if I did I don’t remember’

January 26 and 27: Yates tells White House counsel Don McGahn that Flynn has lied to Mike Pence and other officials, is therefore compromised, could be blackmailed by Russia, and other aspects of his conduct are worrying which she can’t tell McGahn because they are classified

January 28: Flynn sits in the Oval Office to take part in Trump’s first call with Putin 

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February 9: Washington Post reveals Flynn did discuss sanctions and publishes interview in which he repeats denial ‘categorically.’ After the story is published, he tells the newspaper a different version  – that he may have discussed sanctions

February 10 and 11: Trump says he will ‘look into’ Flynn but the aide is at Mar-a-Lago dinner with Shinzo Abe. Pence 

February 13: Washington Post reveals that McGahn was warned about Flynn by Yates. Flynn resigns admitting he ‘inadvertently’ misled Pence, prompting Pence to mislead on Face the Nation in January

February 14: Trump meets Comey and says Flynn is ‘a good guy’ and ‘I hope you can see your way to letting this go.’ 

March 30: Flynn offers to testify to Congress – at the time both House and Senate are Republican-controlled – or the FBI on Trump-Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution; nobody takes up the deal offer

May 9: Trump fires Comey, and on May 17 Robert Mueller is appointed special counsel

May 10: Senate Intel Committee subpoena Flynn for his contacts with Russia; he cites Fifth Amendment; they later subpoena in more detail, and by early June he turns over documents voluntarily

Lindsey Graham will NOT summon Barack Obama for questioning despite Donald Trump's call 15

November 5: Mueller’s investigators revealed to be ready to indict Flynn and his son Michael Jr. on multiple charges. They are looking at his foreign lobbying and even whether he plotted to kidnap a Turkish cleric from the U.S. and deliver him to Turkey – but are also wiling to strike a deal to let his son off if he flips

November 16: Mueller team interview Flynn for first time 

November 22: Flynn withdraws from ‘joint defense deal’ with Trump, suggesting a deal is in the works 

December 1: Flynn signs a plea deal with Mueller; he will plead guilty to lying to the FBI at the White House interview. In exchange his son gets out of charges, and Flynn himself escapes charges of failing to register his lobbying for foreign entities. He appears in court and admits under oath lying to the FBI and affirms that he understands the deal. ‘I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right,’ he says. The White House says: ‘The false statements involved mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation in February of this year.’

December 2: Trump tweets: ‘I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI’

2018

January: Flynn is repeatedly interviewed as he cooperates with Mueller and sentencing is repeatedly deferred

June 7: Obama deputy national security advisor reveals in book that Obama administration first learned of Flynn’s December 2016 communications with Kislyak from Trump transition team members and not from ‘unmasking’ his name in intelligence reports

December 18: Flynn appears in court for sentencing hearing; Mueller’s recommendation is little or no jail time. But Judge Emmet Sullivan says ‘arguably you sold your country out’ and asks why he was not charged with ‘treason.’ Sentencing is deferred

2019

June 12: Flynn fires Covington & Burling, his white shoe law firm, and hires new lawyer Sidney Powell, who had told him on Fox News to ditch his plea deal

August 30: Flynn files motion accusing prosecutors of conning him into a guilty plea by withholding exculpatory material while other parts of the government trying to ‘smear’ him as a Russian agent

December 16: Judge rejects Flynn’s motion after reviewing Intel Inspector General report into the FBI and DOJ actions before the 2016 election and sets sentencing date for January 28

2020

January 7: Prosecutors say they want up to six months for Flynn; a week later he files to ask to withdraw his guilty plea ‘because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement.’ A week later he asks for probation if he can’t get out of his deal. Sentencing is deferred until February 20

February 14

Lindsey Graham will NOT summon Barack Obama for questioning despite Donald Trump's call 17

Attorney General Bill Barr appoints political appointee Jeffrey Jensen, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, to examine Flynn’s prosecution

April 29

New notes released by Jensen show Strzok discussing keeping Flynn as a target on January 4 2017. They also show an unnamed FBI official’s notes from around the interview with Flynn on January 24 2017, saying: ‘What is our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?’ Trump starts a tweet storm which lasts into the next day, saying: ‘What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!’

May 7

Department of Justice says it is withdrawing support for prosecuting Flynn saying the interview in the West Wing was ‘untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn’ and that it was ‘conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.’     

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