Paul claims Biden ‘caught red-handed’ eavesdropping on Flynn
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Wednesday said that former Vice President Joe Biden 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 Trump 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.
“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.
“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 Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey and former CIA Director John Brennan 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 Johnson (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.