Barr asks US attorney to further investigate ‘unmasking’ in 2016

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrTrump urges GOP to vote against bill reauthorizing surveillance powers This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House’s proxy voting Trump sides with religious leaders in fight against governors MORE has asked a U.S. attorney to look into the practice of “unmasking” before and after the 2016 presidential election, a spokesperson for the Justice Department said Wednesday on Fox News’s “Hannity.” 

Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec said Barr has asked U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash to review the “unmasking.” 

“Unmasking inherently isn’t wrong, 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 DurhamJohn DurhamNew FBI document confirms the Trump campaign was investigated without justification The Hill’s Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 Trump ‘surprised’ Barr sees no criminal probe into Obama, Biden MORE‘s investigation – looking specifically at who was unmasking whom, can add a lot to our understanding about motivation and big picture events,” Kupec said on “Hannity.” 

Barr tapped Durham to oversee an investigation into the FBI’s decision making in the Russia probe. 

Kupec said Durham was looking into the “unmasking,” but told Fox News that Barr determined certain aspects of the practice needed further review and assigned Bash. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE has suggested Obama administration officials were involved in criminal wrongdoing in connection with the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference. Trump encouraged investigations into former President Obama and other officials from the Obama administration. 

Barr said earlier this month that he does not expect a criminal investigation of Obama or former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenProsecutor investigating whether Tara Reade gave false testimony as expert witness Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally George Floyd’s sister says Minneapolis officers should be charged with murder MORE, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to result from Durham’s probe. 

There is no evidence that Obama or Biden were involved in criminal wrongdoing in connection with the Russia investigation, and Durham has yet to charge anyone in connection with the probe. But Trump has upped his attacks on his predecessor and pointed to details released in connection with the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn. 

The Trump administration this month declassified a list of Obama-era officials who have received Flynn’s name after requesting it be “unmarked” in intelligence reports. 

Experts have described the act of unmasking as something that is not uncommon within the intelligence community. 

The Justice Department moved to drop charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in 2016. The department’s motion needs to be approved by a judge.

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