Opinion / Politics

Fire Builds Under Obama – Leads to Hard Questions

Three odd things happened last week.  For those who believe in government accountability, they matter.  They raise an important – disturbing – question.  What was the Obama team up to?

First, the acting Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador Richard Grenell, declassified names of 39 high-ranking Obama Administration officials who urgently sought between November 8, 2016 (two days after the election) and January 12, 2016 (eight days before inauguration) to “unmask” private calls between incoming Trump National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn and foreign leaders, including Russian Ambassador Kislyak.

See: www.grassley.senate.gov/sites/default/files/2020-05-13%20ODNI%20to%20CEG%20RHJ%20%28Unmasking%29.pdf).

Unmasking requests are rare, as they involve invasion of an American’s 4th Amendment rights against “unreasonable search and seizure.”  This list is odd.  It involves a machine-gun style set of requests aimed at the incoming Administration, fits a story the Obama team kept pushing that would delegitimize the election, and includes eye-popping names.

To be specific, the list includes seven unmasking requests from UN Representative and former Obama White House official Samantha Power; three from Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (impugned for lying to Congress in March 2013, caught in unauthorized press disclosures); two by CIA Director and former Obama White House official John Brennan (who admits once voting communist; see www.cnn.com/2016/09/15/politics/john-brennan-cia-communist-vote/index.html); two by Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury and former White House Chief of Staff Jacob Lew (who served President Clinton); one by Sarah Raskin, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury – married to Trump critic Jamie Raskin (D-MD); one from FBI Director James Comey (enough said); one from Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough;; two from aides to Clapper, 29 from others, including five redacted names, and one – on January 12, 2017 – from Vice President Joe Biden.

Since unmasking is a non-political process, why did eight Obama White House members invade the privacy of incoming Trump officials?  What was the motive?  Did no warning signs go off in their heads – saying this is utterly wrong? Ask yourself: What was their aim?

Second odd event:  Documents continue to vindicate General Flynn, indicating he was entrapped by Obama’s FBI appointees – beginning in November 2016.  Handwritten notes confirm an effort by then-FBI Director Comey and Deputy Andrew McCabe “to get him to lie so we can prosecute him or get him fired.”  See www.foxnews.com/politics/michael-flynn-fbi-handwritten-notes-get-him-lie-fired.  Ominously, the “302” recording a later interview with Flynn appears to be gone. See: www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/stolen-or-destroyed-trump-seeks-missing-fbi-document-on-flynn-interview.

The obvious question: Why – in November 2016 – did high-ranking Obama appointees want to undermine Flynn?  Why the scramble before January 20?  The biggest bombshell of the past week is that President Obama knew his closest allies – including Vice President Biden – were going after Trump’s national security advisor – and there was no criminal basis.  Obama knew that on January 5, 2017.  That was 15 days before the inauguration.

According to documents filed by Justice seeking to dismiss the case, Obama knew intimate details of the Flynn intercepts, and knew there was no criminal basis.  His knowledge surprised his Deputy Attorney General, Sally Yates. She was “flabbergasted” and “dumbfounded” when she later learned Flynn was being interviewed by FBI without DOJ authorization. See: www.foxnews.com/politics/obama-knew-details-of-wiretapped-flynn-phone-calls-surprising-top-doj-official-new-docs-show

All this raises profound issues. Why would an outgoing president be intimately familiar with wiretaps of his former rival’s team?  Knowing no criminal basis, why not stop the process – before the January 20 inauguration?

Knowing his Vice President had sought unmasking of their rival’s team on January 12, that a Washington Post ran the next day, why not stop this narrative?  Classified leaks are illegal.  Was Obama part of the narrative, bystander or director?  The nagging question – what was their objective?

Third odd event:  As documents continue to be declassified and released, the fire under Obama Administration officials – and Obama himself – is getting hotter. One sign is that the former President spoke out last week – throwing a punch from the sidelines.

Old boxer Jack Dempsey quipped, “The best defense is a good offense.”  In that context, Obama’s remarks may make sense.  With nothing particular to say, he hears footsteps.

Said Obama, perhaps redirecting: “More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing.”

That is rich from a president who capitulated to Putin on an open mike, gave hundreds of millions and nuclear deterrence to Iran, allowed China to dominate global trade and the South China Sea, raised national debt 74 percent, and presided over a near-stagnant economy for eight years. It is particularly rich from a president who knew about and did not stop abuse of our intelligence and law enforcement authorities in pursuit of his political opponents.

In a swipe at President Trump’s unwillingness to federalize coronavirus response, which would violate the 10th Amendment, Obama added: “A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.” For good measure, he tagged Trump for “being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy.”  Remarkable words from a president under fire for political abuse, who advised Democrats that if Republicans “bring a knife” they should “bring a gun.” See: www.snopes.com/fact-check/bringing-a-gun-to-a-knife-fight/

Bottom line:  Americans are sick of political intrigue, abuse of power, and lack of accountability – including by senior Obama officials. A moment of truth is approaching.  These events suggest a closing circle.  They also raise a seminal question:  Why was the Obama White House so urgently seeking to delegitimize the 2016 election?

If not just after Flynn, whom they knew committed no crime; if not just opening the door to future investigations, after they were gone – what were they up to?  Were they aiming, with judicial intervention based on these urgent wiretaps, to stop the inauguration?

That question is solemn, sobering, and arresting.  But it deserves asking, as the theory of the case points to something bigger than Fynn – something urgently sought between November 8 and late January.  If not that, what?  Odd events happened last week.  More may lie ahead.

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