Intel chief Ratcliffe declassifies transcripts of Flynn calls

Director of National Intelligence John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeFormer Trump intelligence officials say they had trouble briefing him on Russia: report GOP senator calls for Russian bounties briefing after reviewing intelligence Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday MORE on Friday announced that he has declassified the transcripts related to Michael Flynn’s conversations with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition.

Ratcliffe, who was sworn in Tuesday, said it was his decision to declassify the documents relating to the former national security adviser in an effort to provide "transparency" while protecting sources and methods.

“As I stated throughout the confirmation process, transparency is vital to allowing the American people to have confidence in the Intelligence Community. As the Director of National Intelligence, it is my obligation to review declassification requests with the overarching priority of protecting sources and methods, while also providing transparency whenever possible," Ratcliffe said in a statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Accordingly, today the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassified transcripts concerning Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn,” he added.

The move comes amid a bipartisan push to release the transcripts between Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S. at the time, in which the retired three star lieutenant general discussed Obama administration sanctions shortly before President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' MORE took office.

Trump and his allies have argued that Obama administration officials abused their powers to target Flynn and hurt the incoming administration. Democrats counter that the White House is seeking to put misplaced blame on government institutions ahead of the 2020 election while protecting a Trump ally.

Flynn was fired by Trump less than a month into the new administration for misleading Vice President Pence about his conversations with Kislyak. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to federal agents about the conversations he had with the Russian diplomat about the Obama administration's sanctions on Moscow. He later sought to withdraw that plea.

The legal battle took an unexpected turn late last month when the government released field notes from the Flynn investigation in which one FBI agent asked in a handwritten note whether it was their goal to get Flynn "to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired."

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump allies and Flynn's legal team argue the notes show Flynn was a victim of prosecutorial misconduct, and they have sought to cast blame on the Obama administration.

Attorney General William BarrBill BarrDemocrat asks Barr to preserve any records tied to environmental hacking probe Justice Dept. considering replacing outgoing US attorney in Brooklyn with Barr deputy: report Ousted Manhattan US Attorney Berman to testify before House next week MORE later made the controversial move to drop the case again Flynn, sparking outrage from Democrats, former federal prosecutors and other critics of the Trump administration.

Updated at 4:33 p.m.