Obamagate: DOJ Launches New Investigation Into Obama-Era ‘Unmasking’ Scandal
AG Barr asks US Attorney John Bash to probe 'unmasking' before and after 2016 election
Attorney General William Barr has reportedly ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch a new investigation into the bombshell Obama-era “unmasking” scandal.
The "Obamagate" controversy has made news in recent weeks after new information regarding actions by former President Barack Obama's administration has come to light.
Speaking with Fox News host Sean Hannity, DOJ Director of Communications Kerri Kupec told confirmed that “yes,” AG Barr has launched a new investigation.
"So, John Durham, as part of his investigation, had been looking at the issue of unmasking," Kupec told Hannity.
"And the attorney general determined that certain aspects of unmasking needed to be reviewed separately, as a support to John Durham’s investigation,” Kupec added.
"So, he tapped John Bash, one of our U.S. attorneys out of Texas, to do just that.”
"And, Sean, obviously, we know that unmasking inherently isn’t wrong," Kupec continued.
"But, certainly, the frequency, the motivation, and the reasoning behind unmasking can be problematic."
"And when you’re looking at unmasking as part of a broader investigation, like John Durham’s investigation, looking specifically at who was unmasking whom can add a lot to our understanding about motivation and big-picture events."
Barr has instructed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash to investigate the practice of "unmasking" before and after the 2016 presidential election.
The scandal has picked up steam after the DOJ moved to drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the Justice Department told Fox News on Wednesday night.
Republican lawmakers have demanded more information about the extent of the practice after a previously clandestine list of Obama-era officials who sought to reveal what turned out to be the identity of Michael Flynn in intelligence reports was released earlier the month.
The DOJ had moved to drop the Flynn case after internal memos were released raising serious questions about the nature of the investigation that led to his late-2017 guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts.
Kupec told Hannity that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation, was looking into "unmasking" but Barr determined certain aspects of the practice needed further review, and Bash has been assigned to do so.
Unmasking is a tool frequently used during the course of intelligence work and occurs after U.S. citizens' conversations are incidentally picked up in conversations with foreign officials who are being monitored by the intelligence community.
The U.S. citizens' identities are supposed to be protected if their participation is incidental and no wrongdoing is suspected.
However, officials can determine the U.S. citizens' names through a process that is supposed to safeguard their rights.
In the typical process, when officials are requesting the unmasking of an American, they do not necessarily know the identity of the person in advance.
Republicans became highly suspicious of the number of unmasking requests made by the Obama administration concerning Flynn, and have questioned whether other Trump associates were singled out.
The DOJ spokesperson also affirmed that the D.C. Court of Appeals has invited the DOJ to weigh in on the Flynn case, "and we will."
Kupec maintained that the DOJ had the ability to drop the case against Flynn.
"We have the prosecutorial discretion to make that decision."