“We’re talking about unmasking, yes,” Trump told Hewitt on Aug. 11. “That was a big deal. Horrible case where they unmasked him so many times. I think he must have the record to unmask. Maybe he does, you know, because we’re still looking for how many times they unmasked me. Let’s find out too, because listen, they were spying on our campaign. “
What Trump was referring to – since it’s, uh, hard to understand from his quote – is the practice of senior administration officials asking to know an individual’s name in order to better understand an intelligence report. . (As a rule, all names of individuals are redacted in intelligence reports.) The process, known as “unmasking,” is relatively rare but not entirely unknown.
In May, Republican Senators Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) released the names of a number of Obama administration officials who may have sought to unmask the identity of Trump’s national security adviser. Michael Flynn in intelligence reports ahead of Trump. taking office. (The names were on a document that had recently been declassified by Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.)
Among the names on this list? Biden.
Trump, who embraces any conspiracy theory that suits his own political interests, immediately seized the news as evidence of (another) plot against him and his allies by the previous administration.
“The unmasking is huge – it’s a huge thing,” Trump said shortly after the names were released. “It’s – I just got a list. It’s – who can believe a thing like that? And I watched Biden yesterday on ‘Good Morning America’ interviewed by one of your coworkers, George Stephanopoulos, and he said he didn’t know nothing about anything. He has no idea. He doesn’t know anything about anything. “
(Box: In a letter responding to Grenell’s request to declassify the cancellation requests, the NSA chief wrote that “the unmasking has been approved through the standard NSA process, which includes a review of the rationale for demand, ”adding:“ Although the principals are identified below, we cannot confirm that they saw the unmasked information. ”) This revealing news was so important to Trump that Attorney General William Barr charged John Bash, the US attorney for San Antonio, in late May to investigate whether the unmasking was politically motivated. That investigation has ended, according to the Washington Post. And it ended without any charges being laid against Biden or any other official in the Obama administration. Or even any public report of its findings.
Trump, although he has amplified the initial reports if they are unmasked, has yet to offer any thoughts on ending the investigation without any sort of finding of wrongdoing.
This is my surprised face.
There is a model here, of course. Since his initial insistence that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election (for which he provided no evidence) through these exposed claims, Trump has desperately grasped everything and everything. who would suggest that not only is the so-called “Deep State” working to prevent him from winning, but he has also done everything it can to hinder his presidency. Despite all of this, of course, Trump insists he accomplished more in his first term than any other president. Remember how Trump repeatedly raised questions about whether Russia was seeking to interfere in the 2016 election to help him and hurt Hillary Clinton? Well, the intelligence community, Special Advocate Robert Mueller, and the US Senate Intelligence Committee all said that was exactly what happened or how Trump said the whole Russia investigation was. politically motivated by people to bring it out? Or how Trump said that President Barack Obama and Biden had “spied on” his presidential campaign? Or how was the DNC mail server somehow in possession of the Ukrainians? Or how are Google and social media sites biased against conservatives? Not enough.
Time and again the President has attempted to elevate conspiracy theories without facts only because he believes they could provide him with the liferaft his drowning campaign badly needs. And when facts are presented that clearly refute his baseless claims, he would not acknowledge them.
If the past is a prologue, then Trump will either a) ignore the end of the unmasking investigation altogether or b) write it off to the “deep state”. (It should be remembered: Bash was appointed to examine Barr’s unmasking. And no one can reasonably conclude, based on his actions, that Barr is anything but strongly pro-Trump.)
But facts are facts. And again, Trump’s attempt to suggest that his political opponents were engaged in nefarious behavior totally and completely failed.
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