Two Republicans senators released a list Wednesday of three dozen former Obama administration officials who had asked the National Security Agency in late 2016 for the name of an American — Michael Flynn, President Trump’s national security adviser, it turned out — whose conversations with foreign agents had been intercepted. The list was requested by acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist, and sent to Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Ron Johnson (Wis.). After they released it, Trump immediately touted Flynn’s “unmasking” as “a massive thing.” It doesn’t appear to be.
“Unmasking” is routine, and has actually increased under Trump. Grenell’s list includes former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, but “Biden and the other officials had full authority to seek the name of the unidentified American in the reports — it turned out to be Flynn — and did so through proper channels,” The Associated Press reports, citing Trump administration documents. “Rather than reveal any actual wrongdoing, the release of the information by the president’s allies seems designed to create suspicion around Biden and other senior Democrats as the November election approaches.”