by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The drip-drip-drip of newly declassified documents related to the Trump-Russia investigation, together with recent reports that a classified leak against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn might not have come from an unmasking request, leaves little doubt that the Obama administration weaponized federal surveillance laws to target Trump associates and undermine the incoming administration.
The story thus far is complex, but it reveals a disturbing abuse of power by the Obama administration that suggests congressional reform of federal surveillance laws is needed to ensure this never happens again.
The latest declassified document, an email written by former White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice detailing a high-level Oval Office meeting on January 5, 2017, directly implicates then-President Obama and other top officials in the targeting of Flynn, including then-Vice President Joe Biden and fired Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey.
According to Rice’s bizarre email, which she wrote to herself as President Trump was being inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017, Comey told Obama and Biden he had “some concerns that incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian Ambassador Kislyak,” and that “the level of communication is unusual.” How did Comey know this? Because the FBI had been spying on Flynn as part of a counterintelligence investigation it launched in August 2016. …
… The sheer number of unmasking requests for Flynn, combined with a disturbing pattern of deception by former Obama officials about the unmaskings, raises serious questions about why the outgoing Obama administration was targeting Trump’s incoming national security advisor, and whether it did so as a pretext to continue the Trump-Russia collusion probe after Trump took office.
It remains to be seen whether any of these disturbing revelations about the Obama administration will influence voters in November. Follow Carolina Journal Online’s ongoing coverage of 2020 election issues here.