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Warner asks DNI for underlying intelligence behind Flynn unmasking

Warner asks DNI for underlying intelligence behind Flynn unmasking
© Bonnie Cash

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTrump slight against Gold Star families adds to military woes Hillicon Valley: Twitter tightens rules before election | Intelligence chief briefed lawmakers on foreign influence threats | Democrats launch inquiry into Pentagon's moves on a national 5G network Senate Democrat raises concerns around Universal Health Services breach MORE (D-Va.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Wednesday asked acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell for the underlying intelligence reports in which former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s name was “unmasked.”

In a letter obtained by The Hill, Warner asked Grenell for any underlying intelligence reports concerning conversations between Flynn and then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kisltak, as well as the reasoning behind declassifying the unmasking requests, “given the potential compromise to sources and methods.”

“As you are well aware, there are substantial protections built into the process for requesting that identities of U.S. persons be unmasked in intelligence reports, ensuring that the rights of individual Americans are protected and that unmasking requests are granted only to those who need the information in order to protect U.S. national security,” Warner wrote.

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“[S]elective declassification for political purposes undermines the integrity of our system for protecting classified information, undermines the Intelligence Community’s credibility, and erodes public trust in institutions critical to protecting the nation,” he added.

Although the Senate panel typically operates on a bipartisan basis, Warner has no power on his own to compel Grenell to turn over the documents.

On Tuesday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) also sent a letter to Grenell asking for further information on why a declassified list of outgoing Obama administration officials who made unmasking requests did not include records of who unmasked Flynn’s name with regard to the calls with Kislyak.

However, Warner’s letter comes the same day as a report from the Washington Post that Flynn’s name was not masked in the first place in the FBI report about his conversations with Kislyak.

Former national security officials, meanwhile, have noted that those making unmasking requests would not have been aware of the identity of the people whose names they wished to unmask, or else the process would not be necessary to begin with.