Department of Justice Attorney General William Barr revealed during Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing that there is a separate investigation into the questionable unmasking of former national security advisor Michael Flynn being headed by an outside U.S. Attorney. This investigation is separate but in conjunction with another investigation being headed by U.S. Attorney John Durham into the origination of the FBI’s now-debunked case that President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.
But sources familiar and vested in Barr’s investigation say there is serious concern as to whether or not the Justice Department can accomplish a full investigation into the Flynn unmasking and the origin of the FBI’s probe into before the November election. Durham’s investigation has been ongoing for more than a year and he has yet to indict any suspects or issue a full report.
Barr did not state whether or not the results of those investigations would be released prior to the November elections but did reiterate to lawmakers that he was aware of the Justice Department rules to not release information that may interfere in an election.
“The American people deserve the truth and there should be no games here, what-so-ever,” said a former senior Intelligence official, who is aware of the ongoing circumstances with the issues being investigated. “Democrats, as well as some Rhino anti-Trump Republicans will push against any report being published before November but that is unacceptable. The Trump administration has spent four years being tarnished and the American people divided.”
“People need the truth and they need it now,” stated the official, who spoke on background due to the continued nature of their work.
Barr told lawmakers Tuesday that with regard to Flynn, he appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash. He wants Bash to investigate the numerous unmasking requests made by former Obama administration officials into Flynn.
The retired three star general’s name and the contents of a top secret conversations in December, 2016 with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were leaked to The Washington Post. Columnist David Ignatius said in his column that multiple U.S. officials had verified that Flynn had spoken to Kislyak and that those conversations regarded then sanctions the Obama administration had taken on Russia.
Barr said that Bash’s probe of the Flynn leak will be independent of the criminal probe being conducted by Durham.
“A number of people, including former special agent (Peter) Strzok and (Joe) Pientka have been interviewed by Durham,” said a source familiar with with Durham’s ongoing probe. “The investigation is certain to bring indictments but how many and who is certainly not being verified by anyone inside the DOJ but If I was (Former FBI Director James) Comey I’d be very concerned.”
Barr told the panel of lawmakers about Bash after being asked by ranking Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan.
Under questioning, Barr said he’s “asked another U.S. attorney to look into the issue of unmasking because of the high number of unmaskings and some that do not readily appear in the line of normal business.”
The numerous unmaskings conducted by the Obama administration were first reported by this reporter and journalist John Solomon three years ago for then Circa News, with Sinclair Broadcast Group.
For example, as explained in a column in 2017 by Fox News contributor and prosecutor Andrew McCarthy FISA “surveillance is more controversial than criminal surveillance because the government does not have to show probable cause of a crime — and when the targets are foreigners outside the U.S., the government does not have to make any showing; it may target if it has a legitimate foreign-intelligence purpose, which is really not much of a hurdle at all.”
He noted that under the “Obama administration’s monitoring of Trump-campaign officials, FISA section 702 provides some privacy protection for Americans: The FISA court orders “minimization” procedures, which require any incidentally intercepted American’s identity to be “masked.” That is, the NSA must sanitize the raw data by concealing the identity of the American. Only the “masked” version of the communication is provided to other U.S. intelligence agencies for purposes of generating reports and analyses. As I have previously explained, however, this system relies on the good faith of government officials in respecting privacy: There are gaping loopholes that permit American identities to be unmasked if, for example, the NSA or some other intelligence official decides doing so is necessary to understand the intelligence value of the communication.”
These loopholes, however, and the then loosening of rules under the Obama administration to access the names of private communications through warrants – where American names were meant to be minimized – produced a dangerous access to intelligence that violated the Fourth Amendment. It was an issue that caused the FISA court to chide the Obama administration for the unlawful surveillance.
But the issue would have been buried if it weren’t for ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, R-CA, who at the time was the chairman and opened a years long investigation into the issue. He was the first to openly question and investigate the unmasking requests, which he noted at the time were extremely unusual requests and not common practice in any administration.
Nunes recently told Fox News that Republicans have “been running our own investigation, House Republicans have, for three and a half years and we’ve made our own criminal referrals.” Nunes also noted that very few media outlets investigated the issue or addressed the malfeasance with Obama DOJ or the issues that led to the hundreds of unmaskings.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the committee, went after Barr during the hearing saying he “aided and abetted the worst failings” of Trump.
Barr told Nadler that he was not and that he was “independent” of Trump.