After the information about the unmasking of Gen. Michael Flynn dropped on Wednesday, it was revealed that many of the top-level officials in the Obama Administration had been involved in unmasking including DNI James Clapper, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power (despite testifying that she did not recall unmasking Flynn), CIA head John Brennan, FBI head James Comey, and Obama Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
But there’s no doubt the biggest surprise in the list and the one that brought the most attention was that then-Vice President Joseph R. Biden was listed among the people requesting Flynn be unmasked. The timing also made it clear that it was likely about the phone call with the Russian Ambassador and the timing or the request also was on the same day that a story was written about the phone call in The Washington Post based on an illegal leak from the Obama Administration. Such a leak of classified information is potentially a felony.
While unmasking is not illegal, unmasking for political purposes is and it’s certainly a troubling abuse of power if they are abusing their power to use it to go after a political opponent and then leak to the media in order to undermine the Trump team. We know that was what was done, that there was, in fact, an illegal leak to The Washington Post, so that the only question is which Obama officials were involved and how high up did it go. The troubling problem is because of the Jan. 5 meeting which involved both Obama and Biden, it looks like the effort against Flynn went to the top and the unmasking request by Obama’s Chief of Staff and Biden only reinforce that.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called it an “abuse of power” and said that Biden had been “caught red-handed” eavesdropping on Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser. Paul called on the acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell to testify before the Senate as to the details of what transpired with regard to the requests.
"Biden accessed the identity and the private conversation of a political opponent. There is no more clear violation of a politician using their office and abusing their office to go after a political opponent and I think he's caught red-handed here." 🔥🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/JSWZ9J0N4h
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 14, 2020
From Real Clear Politics:
“These rumors have been going around for years that Obama’s administration was abusing te power of unmasking, and this sounds like they were using it to go after a political opponent, which is a serious offense and should be investigated,” Paul said. “The fact that Vice President Biden is directly involved in the unmasking of a political opponent — think about it. You remember impeachment? They said the president was using the government to go after a political opponent? This is Vice President Biden using the spying powers of the U.S. to go after a political opponent and he is caught red-handed here… eavesdropping on a political opponent’s phone calls.”
“Every reporter in the country needs to ask this legitimate question. They need to come out of hibernation and ask Vice President Biden, do we think it is a legitimate function of government to eavesdrop on political opponents, illegally unmask them and listen to their private conversation?”
Paul also said he wanted to hear testimony from the Obama officials on the unmasking list including Comey and Clapper. He pointed out that each of these folks individually asked to unmask Flynn, some more than once, although not everyone asked for an unmasking after the call, so not all the requests were about the call.
Paul called for hearings so that this never happens again. Paul said we now know Biden was “involved up to his eyeballs,” despite Biden’s denial of knowledge about anything involved in the effort against Flynn.
Sen. Rand Paul: "We now know at the very least Vice President Biden was in this up to his eyeballs." pic.twitter.com/CUztQG2LrL
— The Hill (@thehill) May 13, 2020
From Daily Caller:
“This is incredibly troubling and shocking, that the previous administration, under President Obama, under Vice President Biden’s specific instruction, was eavesdropping on an American — an American advisor to the next president,” Paul said. “If Vice President Biden and the president’s inner circle of advisors were all listening to a senior Trump advisor’s personal phone conversation, this would amount to a serious abuse of power. The only question remains is ‘What did President Obama know, and when did he know it?’”