Acting US Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell on Wednesday released a list of former Obama administration officials who "unmasked" former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Officials make thousands of unmasking requests every year.
While unmasking is a common practice, leaking an unmasked name to the media or the public is illegal.
Indeed, an exhibit in the Justice Department's motion to drop the criminal case against Flynn - who was pressured to plead guilty to lying about that conversation - shows that Obama himself was aware of Flynn's discussion with the envoy.
Paul said he plans to invite Grenell to testify before the Senate next week and answer questions about how unmasking usually works and how unusual the situation with Flynn was.
"Mr. Flynn was set to become the national security adviser, and it was untenable that Russian Federation - which the intelligence community had just assessed had sought to interfere in the US presidential election - might have leverage over him", Mary McCord, the Justice Department's top national security official at the time, wrote in a New York Times opinion piece in which she accused Barr of misrepresenting her viewpoints.
The "unmasking" requests were made in response to a National Security Agency foreign intelligence report that generically referred to an individual. Yates, in her interview, indicated Obama was aware of Flynn's intercepted December 2016 phone calls with Kislyak during the presidential transition period. Trump sent a tweet May 10 using the term "OBAMAGATE" followed by a re-tweet of Buck Sexton, a conservative commentator, that said, "the outgoing president [Obama] used his last weeks in office to target incoming officials and sabotage the new administration". It was Mueller's prosecutors who charged Flynn with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the January 2017 interview Comey ordered.
The full list includes 39 people, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, Obama's White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Trump recently declared Flynn "exonerated".
What's at stake in Supreme Court fight over Trump financial records
Supreme Court justices are asking whether there is any limit to Congress' ability to subpoena records related to the president. With two conservative Trump appointees on the nine-justice panel, the court has taken a clear turn to the right.
The NSA, in handing over the list, noted that each person named was "an authorized recipient" of the intelligence which "was approved through NSA's standard process".
Here's everything you need to know about the latest Flynn developments.
During a White House meeting with Republican lawmakers on Friday, purportedly to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump detoured to talk about the inquiry.
Barr has played a leading role in rolling back aspects of the Mueller investigation, which focused on Moscow's meddling in the 2016 election.
He has increasingly lashed out in the year since Mueller's report, which identified substantial contacts between Trump associates and Russian Federation but did not accuse him of a crime or allege a criminal conspiracy between his campaign and the Kremlin.
Trump and others in the right-wing media sphere have latched onto the Obamagate conspiracy theory in recent days, saying it proves that Obama and his officials committed criminal acts and wanted to sabotage Trump after he won the 2016 U.S. election.