Trump says 'this was all Biden' as memo shows ex-VP among those who sought to unmask Michael Flynn's identity
Biden's campaign said, 'These documents have absolutely nothing to do with any FBI investigation and they confirm that all normal procedures were followed'
Joe Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was on Wednesday, May 13, identified as one of the former Barack Obama administration officials who ‘unmasked’ the name of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in intelligence reports.
A National Security Agency document signed by Director General Paul Nakasone put the former vice president’s name among those who sought and may have got information on Flynn in the final days of the Obama presidency or were otherwise involved in the disgraced official’s unmasking.
Flynn, 61, served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency between 2012 and 2014 and took over as the first NSA of the Donald Trump administration that took over in January 2017. He, however, lasted less than a month in office as he resigned after pleading guilty of having misled authorities over his talks with then Russian envoy to the US Sergey Kislyak.
The Flynn incident has come back to ignite a tug-of-war between the two administrations in the recent months. After the former NSA brought in a new legal team, which worked more aggressively, he filed documents to withdraw his guilty plea and it was reported that he was tricked into lying. The justice department later dropped the charges against him, sparking a backlash from various quarters, including former President Obama. However, the judge who is presiding over the Flynn case has not readily accepted the move and has appointed a retired jurist to investigate the tainted ex-NSA to see if he should be held in criminal contempt over his guilty plea.
The leaked intelligence memo added fuel to the fire with President Trump attacking Biden, who he is likely to face in the November presidential election, for unmasking. He linked it with the prosecution of his former NSA and called it a disgrace.
“When I see what is happening to him, it's disgraceful. And it was all a ruse. And by the way the FBI said he didn't lie,” the president said at the White House on Wednesday, May 13. “With all the stuff I'm hearing about lying. The FBI said he didn't lie. But the sleazebag said, ‘Well we don't care what they say, we're saying he lied’,” he added. “What they’ve done to that man and that family is a disgrace,” Trump said while speaking to the media about coronavirus.
“I just left Gen. Milley and he said (he) was a great man and a great soldier,” Trump further said, suggesting that Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, also backed Flynn. Trump’s deputy Mike Pence also spoke in favor of Flynn recently and called him an ‘American patriot’.
“It's a massive thing. Who can believe a thing like this,” Trump said while showing a notecard he indicated was a list featuring the relevant information.
Trump also targeted Biden while speaking to Fox Business Network later, saying it was ‘all Biden’ and holding him a key player in Flynn’s prosecution. The procedure was carried out by career prosecutors after the 2016 election and led to Flynn’s guilty plea.
They weren't after Flynn, they wanted him to lie about me: Trump
“They weren’t after General Flynn, they wanted him to lie about me, make up a story. And with few exceptions, nobody did that. There were many people, I watched [former national security official] KT McFarland the other day, I watched where she was, knock-knock FBI, you know, the FBI, this was all Obama, this was all Biden,” Trump said while giving a hint that it was him who was the main target.
“These people were corrupt, the whole thing was corrupt, and we caught them, we caught them. And what you saw just now, I watched Biden yesterday he could barely speak, he was on Good Morning America right? He said he didn't know anything about it, and now it just gets released right after he said that. It gets released that he was one of the unmaskers. Meaning he knew everything about it, so he lied to your friend George Stephanopoulos,” the president, who has been frequently using the term ‘Obamagate’ since the Flynn incident returned to the headlines to prove that the Obama administration did all it could to sabotage the incoming administration, said.
Biden’s name features in a group of ‘recipients who may have received Lt Gen Flynn's identity in response to a request processed between 8 November 2016 and 31 January 2017’ to unmask an identity in an NSA intelligence report. The memo also identifies the former VP among a group of principals although it hasn’t confirmed that he witnessed the information.
Biden campaign defends him
The campaign of Biden on Wednesday responded, saying, “These documents have absolutely nothing to do with any FBI investigation and they confirm that all normal procedures were followed -- any suggestion otherwise is a flat-out lie,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement issued during the day.