Intel chief Ratcliffe declassifies transcripts of Flynn calls

Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeGerman lawmaker, US ambassador to Germany trade jabs The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic MORE on Friday announced that he has declassified the transcripts related to Michael Flynn’s conversations with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition.

Ratcliffe, who was sworn in Tuesday, said it was his decision to declassify the documents relating to the former national security adviser in an effort to provide “transparency” while protecting sources and methods.

“As I stated throughout the confirmation process, transparency is vital to allowing the American people to have confidence in the Intelligence Community. As the Director of National Intelligence, it is my obligation to review declassification requests with the overarching priority of protecting sources and methods, while also providing transparency whenever possible,” Ratcliffe said in a statement.

“Accordingly, today the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassified transcripts concerning Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn,” he added.

The move comes amid a bipartisan push to release the transcripts between Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. at the time, in which the retired three star lieutenant general discussed Obama administration sanctions shortly before President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinneapolis erupts for third night, as protests spread, Trump vows retaliation Stocks open mixed ahead of Trump briefing on China The island that can save America MORE took office.

Trump and his allies have argued that Obama administration officials abused their powers to target Flynn and hurt the incoming administration. Democrats counter that the White House is seeking to put misplaced blame on government institutions ahead of the 2020 election while protecting a Trump ally.

Flynn was fired by Trump less than a month into the new administration for misleading Vice President Pence about his conversations with Kislyak. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to federal agents about the conversations he had with the Russian diplomat about the Obama administration’s sanctions on Moscow. He later sought to withdraw that plea.

The legal battle took an unexpected turn late last month when the government released field notes from the Flynn investigation in which one FBI agent asked in a handwritten note whether it was their goal to get Flynn “to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”

Trump allies and Flynn’s legal team argue the notes show Flynn was a victim of prosecutorial misconduct, and they have sought to cast blame on the Obama administration.

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFormer prosecutors outraged at decision to dismiss the Flynn case should focus on the real problems The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – George Floyd’s death sparks protests, National Guard activation More than two dozen former prosecutors, judges, active trial lawyers support DOJ decision to dismiss Michael Flynn case MORE later made the controversial move to drop the case again Flynn, sparking outrage from Democrats, former federal prosecutors and other critics of the Trump administration.

Updated at 4:33 p.m.

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