Republican Sen. Rand Paul (KY) slammed Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden on Wednesday for allegedly “abusing” government authority “to go after a political opponent” while he served as Barack Obama’s vice president, Breitbart reported.
Paul’s remarks came just hours after a group of Republican senators released to the public a declassified list of former Obama administration officials who requested as early as 2016 that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn be “unmasked” in official intelligence reports released as part of the infamous Trump–Russia collusion probe, as The Washington Post reported.
“This isn’t about national security”
The controversy began earlier this year when newly released documents, cited in an April report from The New York Times, seemed to suggest misconduct on the part of the FBI when it was investigating allegations of collusion between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russia. The probe found its way to Flynn early on, and the retired Army general was later charged with lying to FBI investigators. Flynn pleaded guilty, but later tried to rescind that plea, as Politico noted.
Last week, the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General Bill Barr, announced that it would be dropping the charges against Flynn in part because of the new documents, as CBS News reported — and though the exoneration is still being hotly contested, Republicans in Washington are jumping into the fray to hold accountable those who they believe abused government spying powers.
Among those are Obama administration officials included on a list compiled by acting National Intelligence Director Richard Grenell of individuals who reportedly wanted Flynn’s identity outed in government documents “in late 2016 and early 2017,” according to NPR — a list that included none other than Uncle Joe himself.
“Almost everyone in President Obama’s top circle wanted to see this and wanted to listen to this conversation,” Paul told reporters Wednesday, reacting to the news, according to a transcript provided by Breitbart. “How unusual is this that the entire upper echelon — individually it wasn’t just one request for this, there were dozens of requests.
“This isn’t about national security, this is about eavesdropping on your opponent and eavesdropping on the new president’s top adviser,” the senator added, according to Breitbart.
Paul went on to allege that the alleged eavesdropping “was being led by at least by Vice President Biden, if not [Obama], and we need to get to the bottom of it to make sure it never happens again. For the average American, they’re worried that this could happen to a top general like Flynn, but could you imagine this power being unharnessed on an ordinary American? How would we defend ourselves?” he asked.
“He’s caught red-handed”
The Biden campaign, for its part, has maintained that the former vice president couldn’t have known that the person he wanted “unmasked” was, in fact, Flynn based on the information provided in the reports, according to NPR. The outlet further reported:
A spokesman for Biden emphasized on Wednesday that because of the way “minimization” works, there was no way for officials in the Obama era to single out Flynn or anyone else as a part of these practices.
But that wasn’t enough for Paul. “These rumors have been going around for years that President Obama’s administration was abusing this power of unmaking, and this sounds like these were abusing it to go after a political opponent, which I think is a very serious offense and should be investigated — and the fact that Vice President Biden is directly involved with unmasking a political opponent,” the senator told reporters Wednesday, according to Breitbart.
He went on: “Remember we went through this thing called impeachment? They said President Trump was using the government to go after a political opponent? This is Vice President Biden using the spying powers of the United States to go after a political opponent. He’s caught red-handed here.”
Given what we are learning about the Obama-era Justice Department’s efforts to spy on the incoming Trump administration, it will be interesting to see how Democrats and the media attempt to spin these damning revelations. No doubt, they’ll be trying to dodge accountability for what increasingly seem to be impeachable behaviors.