New documents raise questions about what role Barack Obama himself might have played in what President Donald Trump calls “Obamagate.”
A list released Wednesday of Obama officials who sought to “unmask” Michael Flynn points to a broad “fishing expedition” against Trump that “began earlier and was much broader than previously believed,” argues former national security official Fred Fleitz in a new piece for Fox News.
Fleitz: Broad plot was afoot
Flynn initially pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying about his contacts with a Russian ambassador during the presidential transition, NPR reported, but the Department of Justice (DOJ) moved to drop his case in light of evidence that his FBI interview was arranged and conducted on deceptive pretenses, according to Fox.
Allies of Donald Trump insist that Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, was targeted as part of a wider plot to damage the incoming president.
On Wednesday, spy chief Richard Grenell declassified a list of 39 Obama officials who asked to “unmask” Flynn during the presidential transition, adding to such speculation, as The New York Times reported. The list suggests that the actions of the outgoing administration were not coincidental, according to Fleitz, who is a former national security official and president of the Center for Security Policy.
Most of the unmasking requests were made between Dec. 14 and Dec. 16 — before a late December phone call that Flynn had with the Russian ambassador and which later became the pretext for his FBI interview, Fleitz said.
The list appears to show that a wider attempt to “undermine and destroy” the Trump presidency was underway, Fleitz opined, since Flynn’s “unmasking” appears to mostly predate “intercepted conversations of Flynn having allegedly inappropriate conversations” with the ambassador.
Trump demands answers
Trump allies insist that Flynn’s interview was set up to railroad him and that Obama was personally invested in spying on Trump to hurt his Oval Office successor — an alleged conspiracy that Trump has dubbed “Obamagate.”
How deep the alleged scandal goes — and how involved Obama truly was — remains a matter of building speculation.
Trump has certainly made no secret of his wishes, declaring Wednesday that Obama “knew EVERYTHING” and demanding that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stop being a “nice guy” and haul the former president before Congress, Fox noted.
With anger building among the president’s allies, the DOJ’s effort to drop the case against Flynn was placed on hold Wednesday after the Judge Emmet Sullivan intervened and raised the possibility of holding Flynn in contempt, as The Hill reported.
In the meantime, the president’s foes have insisted that there is nothing unusual about the unmasking, echoing previous claims that the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign was merely standard operating procedure.