Two Senate committees are expanding their investigations into the Obama-era scandal that involved surveilling members of the Trump campaign, which Attorney General William Barr has said amounts to “spying,” saying that they have reason to believe that they are becoming increasingly concerned that the surveillance started before the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation.
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson and Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley wrote a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell asking for the declassification of “additional information related to the unmasking of Americans around the time of the 2016 election, but also to expand the scope of our request to include information as early as January 2016.”
“Based on our investigation and recent press reports, we are increasingly concerned that the surveillance of U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign began earlier than the opening of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation in late July 2016,” the letter continued. “It has become evident that the FBI, and possibly members of the U.S. Intelligence Community, were focused on U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign in early 2016, if not even earlier.”
“Again, the best way to resolve these issues is to determine the truth, and to make clear to the American people what did and did not occur,” the letter concluded. “For these reasons, we respectfully request that you make available to us, as soon as possible, all information regarding the “unmasking” of U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump campaign requested by members of President Obama’s administration from January 2016 through January 2017.”
Grassley and Johnson are dramatically expanding their request for Obama era unmasking records.
They want records on all Trump associates from Jan. 2016-Jan. 2017, saying they are "increasingly concerned" that surveillance began before Crossfire Hurricanehttps://t.co/KO2r72RmyC pic.twitter.com/RNtnuOk9Ss
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) May 19, 2020
The demand for more information comes after last week’s bombshell revelation that numerous Obama officials, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, unmasked then-incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Fox News reported:
The list was declassified in recent days by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and then sent to GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson, who made the documents public. The roster features top-ranking figures including then-Vice President Joe Biden — a detail already being raised by the Trump campaign in the bare-knuckle 2020 presidential race where Biden is now the Democrats’ presumptive nominee.
The list also includes then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Obama’s then-chief of staff Denis McDonough.
Obama officials, including disgraced former FBI Director James Comey, thought that there was something wrong with Flynn’s phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
Attorney General William Barr debunked that notion earlier this month, saying that Flynn made “a perfectly legitimate and appropriate call he made as a member of the transition.”
“Let me say that, at that point, he was the designated national security adviser for President-Elect Trump, and was part of the transition, which is recognized by the government and funded by the government as an important function to bring in a new administration,” Barr continued. “And it is very typical, very common for the national security team of the incoming president to communicate with foreign leaders.”
“And that call, there was nothing wrong with it whatever. In fact, it was laudable. He– and it was nothing inconsistent with the Obama administration’s policies,” Barr concluded on the matter. “And it was in U.S. interests. He was saying to the Russians, you know, ‘Don’t escalate.’ And they asked him if he remembered saying that, and he said he didn’t remember that.”