Paul claims Biden 'caught red-handed' eavesdropping on Flynn

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP Arizona lawmaker says Fauci and Birx 'undermine' Trump's coronavirus response Fauci: 'We are not going in the right direction' FBI says Breonna Taylor case is 'top priority' for Louisville agents MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said that former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden chips away at Trump's fundraising advantage The Memo: Trump grows weak as clock ticks down Nina Turner addresses Biden's search for a running mate MORE had been "caught red-handed” eavesdropping on former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn after it was revealed the National Security Agency received a request in Biden's name to unmask Flynn’s identity in a classified transcript.

Paul accused Biden of an “abuse of power” by requesting the authority to know the identity of the American citizen who was in contact with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak by telephone after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSecret Service members who helped organize Pence Arizona trip test positive for COVID-19: report Trump administration planning pandemic office at the State Department: report Iran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report MORE won the 2016 election.

“This was being led by Vice President Biden, if not the president, and we need to get to the bottom of it to make sure it never happens again,” Paul told reporters at a Wednesday press conference.   

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“This is Vice President Biden using the spying powers of the United States to go after a political opponent. He’s caught red-handed here. Vice President Biden is caught red-handed eavesdropping on a political opponent’s phone calls. That to me is alarming,” he said.

Flynn resigned in February 2017 after admitting he had not been truthful when he denied discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia before Trump's inauguration.

He was later charged with lying to FBI agents in a criminal case the Department of Justice dropped last week.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell on Wednesday released a declassified National Security Agency document showing that 39 senior Obama administration officials requested to know the name of the American individual on the intercepted calls with Kislyak.

The document shows Biden or someone on his staff requested to unmask Flynn’s identity on Jan 12, 2017, — eight days before Trump took his oath of office as president. 

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“It looks like each of these administration officials actually individually requested to listen to this conversation,” Paul said. “These rumors have been going around for years that President Obama’s administration was abusing this power of unmasking and this sounds like they were abusing it to go after a political opponent, which I think is a very serious offense and should be investigated.” 

Paul on Twitter called for the Senate to immediately hold hearings on the issue and call Biden, former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperTrump's actions on China speak louder than Bolton's words GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe Graham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over MORE, former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBolton book sells 780,000 copies in first week, set to surpass 1M copies printed The Seila Law case: Liberty and political firing A new age of lies? MORE and former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanGraham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over GOP votes to give chairman authority to subpoena Obama officials Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony MORE to testify. 

Clapper’s, Comey’s and Brennan’s names were on the list of Obama administration officials who requested to review information related to Flynn’s calls with Kislyak.

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Biden’s campaign, on Wednesday tweeted a story from May 2018 in which one Republican at the center of calls to investigate Biden, Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonRepublicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday Senate Republicans defend Trump's response on Russian bounties MORE (R-Wis.), identified Biden as Trump’s biggest threat in 2020.

Barbara McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan, said Wednesday there’s nothing improper about asking to know the name of a U.S. citizen on a classified intelligence report as long as the official requesting the information has proper clearance and a justification.

Olivia Beavers and Al Weaver contributed.