While Republicans have spent months calling the Obama-era revelations a huge scandal, John Bash found no evidence of significant wrongdoing in his investigation, which ended without a public report. Bash left his role at the Ministry of Justice last week.
The term “disclosure” refers to the process of disclosing the names of American citizens who are affected in the reports of the National Security Agency for foreign intelligence. The names of American citizens are always edited in the NSA’s foreign intelligence documents, but some government officials have the power to request that the names be unedited or disguised.
CNN asked the Department of Justice for comment.
The quiet end of the probe encompasses months of effort that add to the weight of a senior federal prosecutor behind a problem President Donald Trump had used to back up baseless allegations about former President Barack Obama.
The investigation was announced in May after then-acting National Intelligence Director Richard Grenell declassified a list of names of former Obama administration officials who allegedly asked for the “unmasking”
Senate Republicans later published a list of Obama administration officials who “may have” received Flynn’s identity in NSA intelligence reports following requests to reveal the Americans.
At the time, Trump called the list a “huge thing” for reporters, and Sen. John Cornin, a Republican from Texas, even told Fox News it was “the biggest thing about Watergate.”
The Trump campaign also quickly issued a statement attacking former Vice President Joe Biden for being included in the note, although Biden’s campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said the declassified documents “simply show the breadth and depth of concern” about the behavior. Flynn.
Republican senators who released the documents – National Security Senate President Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa – said they did not claim Biden committed any wrongdoing, but argued the information provided to questions they wanted answered. .
“I’m not saying anything,” Johnson said at the time. “We released Senator Grassley because we believe that the American people have a right to know, and that raises many more questions than they answer. So we will ask many more questions.”
While the names of US citizens must be kept secret in intelligence reports, senior officials have the opportunity to request that the names be disclosed in certain circumstances in order to better understand the reports. In the past, some Obama officials have admitted they want people identified, but said there are good reasons.
Despite Trump’s repeated efforts to cite unmasking as evidence of wrongdoing by Obama and his administration, the level of unmasking has increased under the Trump administration.
Last year, there were more than 10,000 unmasks and nearly 17,000 in 2018, according to the office of the Director of Statistical Transparency of National Intelligence. In 2017, there were 9,529 people, the first year of Trump’s rule.
Under the Obama administration, there were about 9,217 unmasks in 2016 and only 654 in 2015.
CNN’s Christina Carega and David Shortel contributed to this report.