Johnson Calls for Probe of Biden over Flynn ‘Unmasking’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson is calling for an investigation into the requests made by then-Vice President Joe Biden and Obama Administration officials to unmask Gen. Michael Flynn.

“Unmasking’ is a process by which an authorized official with a ‘need to know’ requests access to a private citizen’s name that is the subject of a federal wiretap,” wrote Johnson, R-6 Ohio, in a statement Thursday. “An unmasking request would normally only be granted to a select group of intelligence community or Justice Department officials who are working a case. Yet, we now know that then Vice President Joe Biden made an unmasking request to obtain the name of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn only eight days before he was about to leave government service and lose his access to classified information.”

Johnson questions what Biden, the presumptive Democratic Party nominee for president, needed to know at the time the unmasking request was made. Without a proper need, Johnson says, the request may have been illegal to make and illegal to disclose.

“During my Air Force career, had someone under my command done what Joe Biden did, I would have called for an investigation and potential charges to be filed,” Johnsons said. “As a member of Congress, with oversight responsibilities of the executive branch, I have an obligation to do the same thing.”

On Wednesday, a group of Republican senators released a list of Obama administration officials who made requests to unmask Americans included in intelligence reports in the final weeks before Trump took office.

A spokesman for Biden said that same day that because of how the process of “minimization” works – that is, changing a person’s name in an intelligence report to something like “U.S. Person 1” for security and privacy reasons — officials would not have known who was in the reports before the requests were made. 

In January 2017, the Washington Post reported Flynn was included in intelligence reports on Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a target of surveillance by the American intelligence community.

In the report, Flynn asked the then-ambassador to ask the Kremlin not to retaliate in response to measures put in place by the outgoing Obama administration.

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