President Trump is going after 2020 rival Joe Biden for being featured on a list of top officials involved in the “unmasking” of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn one day after denying any involvement in his prosecution.
Speaking to Fox Business Thursday morning, the commander in chief argued that acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell’s bombshell report exposed the former vice president as playing a role in the investigation despite Biden’s claim otherwise just one day before.
“They went after General Flynn, they wanted him to lie about me, make up a story, and with few exceptions, nobody did that, there were many people,” the commander in chief remarked.
“This was all Obama. This was all Biden,” he continued, “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? 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, so he knew everything about it,” Trump continued, referencing Biden’s Wednesday interview.
On Wednesday, Grenell released a list of 23 Obama-era officials who allegedly tried to reveal Flynn’s identity during the presidential transition period through the process of “unmasking.”
Biden, along with Obama-era officials such as former FBI Director James Comey and intelligence chiefs John Brennan and James Clapper, were named in the declassified list.
US citizens sometimes have conversations incidentally picked up through surveillance practices by the intelligence community that monitor foreign officials. Those citizens’ identities are supposed to be kept private, or “masked,” absent a warrant to reveal their identity.
US intelligence officials, however, can request the names of those citizens via a warrant, if they feel the information is pertinent to understand the intelligence. This is called “unmasking.”
“It was the greatest political crime in the history of our country,” President Trump went on to say to the network, arguing that he believes Republicans would have been treated differently if the roles were reversed.
“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. This is the greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country.
“People should be going to jail for this stuff and hopefully, a lot of people are going to have to pay. No other president should have to go through, and I’ll tell you, Gen. Flynn and others are heroes, heroes, because what’s happened to them. They weren’t after Gen. Flynn, they wanted him to lie about me, make up a story,” he continued.
Asked Wednesday during his “Good Morning America” appearance what he knew of the moves to investigate Flynn and if anything improper was done, Vice President Biden said, “I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn.”
When Biden was pushed further on the matter, he corrected himself, saying he was not involved in the prosecution of Flynn.
In a statement, a Biden campaign spokesperson said, “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.”
Flynn pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to the FBI about the conversations he had with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He later tried to withdraw that plea ahead of sentencing, claiming he did not intentionally lie.
The Justice Department moved to drop the charges against the former national security adviser earlier this month, after a four-page document released as part of a re-examination of the case showed the then-counterintelligence director of the FBI openly questioning whether the agency’s “goal” was to “get [Flynn] to lie.”
“What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” Bill Priestap wrote. “If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ & have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] & he admits it, document for DOJ, & let them decide how to address it.”
The notes were taken in January 2017 by Priestap following a meeting with Comey and then-Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, according to Fox News.
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