Former Vice President Joe Biden has been named as one of 16 officials who were involved in the unmasking of Gen. Michael Flynn.
A document from the National Security Agency signed by Director Gen. Paul Nakasone named Biden as among a group of people within the administration who may have received information on the general in the last days of the Obama administration or were involved in his unmasking, The Washington Examiner reported.
The list, obtained by the Washington Examiner on Wednesday, shows Biden received information at least once in response to such an unmasking request on Jan. 12, 2017, but it is not clear whether he made the request or even looked at the information. Biden is now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in the 2020 contest for the White House.
The newly declassified records show that 16 individuals made unmasking requests related to the incoming Trump national security adviser, and the list shows which officials received that sensitive information. It was not immediately clear which individuals made the requests, but those who received the unmasking information were laid out chronologically.
Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough, and former FBI Director James Comey are all on the list.
“The officials listed should confirm whether they reviewed this information, why they asked for it and what they did with it, and answer many other questions that have been raised by recent revelations,” Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said in a joint statement.
“We are making this public because the American people have a right to know what happened,” they said.
“Below is a list 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 that had been generically referred to in an NSA foreign intelligence report,” the National Security Agency said.
“Each individual was an authorized recipient of the original report and the unmasking was approved through NSA’s standard process, which includes a review of the justification for the request,” it said.
Republicans have alleged since 2017 that Obama-era officials improperly unmasked associates of then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign during the Russia investigation. Democrats have defended the intelligence-gathering process, arguing that the collection of identifying information is inevitable.
In an interview earlier this week, after first denying he knew anything about the FBI investigation into Flynn, Biden corrected himself when pressed on it by journalist George Stephanopoulos, who noted his presence at a high-profile Oval Office meeting in the final days of the Obama administration on Jan. 5, 2017. After that meeting, documents show Comey discussed with Obama and Biden intercepted contacts between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak.
Biden audibly sighed on ABC’s Good Morning America as Stephanopoulos asked what the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee knew about an early 2017 investigation into Flynn and whether there was anything improper done by the Obama administration.
“I know nothing about those moves to investigate Michael Flynn,” the presumptive Democratic nominee for president said.
“This is all about diversion. This is a game this guy plays all the time. The country is in crisis. … He should stop trying to always divert attention from the real concerns of the American people,” he said.
“I thought you asked me whether or not I had anything to do with him being prosecuted,” the former vice president said.
“I was aware that there was, that they asked for an investigation, but that’s all I know about it,” he admitted as he played with his earpiece.