Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn’s name was never masked in the FBI report on his communications with then-Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, unnamed U.S. officials are now telling the media.
The official narrative has always been that the calls were picked up by the intelligence community as part of routine wiretaps of a foreign adversary. Until now, Flynn’s part in the intercept has always been characterized as “incidental collection.” Therefore, his name in the report would have been redacted or “masked” to protect his privacy.
But as the Conservative Treehouse pointed out on Twitter last week, records show that the perfectly appropriate and unobjectionable Flynn-Kislyak calls were not unmasked by the FBI between December 29, 2017 and January 04, 2017. Because they were never masked to begin with.
The FBI had previously conducted surveillance of Flynn as part of an investigation that, despite extensive efforts, yielded no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. It would appear that they captured the conversation during that surveillance, without a warrant and without bothering to mask his identity.
According to the Washington Post’s government sources, the FBI never masked Flynn’s name because “his name and position were relevant to understanding the report.”
“When the FBI circulated [the report], they included Flynn’s name from the beginning” a former official told the Post. “There were therefore no requests for the unmasking of that information.”
The FBI was so desperate to find dirt on Flynn, they had previously offered to pay disgraced former British spy Christopher Steele to collect intelligence on him as part of their counterintelligence operation.
According to a little noticed section of the Justice Department Inspector General’s report in December, the proposal was made in an unidentified European city on October 3, 2016.
As Chuck Ross at the Daily Caller noted, Steele went on to peddle an unfounded rumor to the media about Flynn having an affair with Svetlana Lokhova, a Russian-British academic in the United Kingdom.
It is not clear how and when Steele came across the rumor, or if it was the result of the FBI asking him to look into Flynn. (RELATED: Dossier Author Told John McCain Aide Of Unfounded Michael Flynn Affair Rumor)
The inspector general’s report, released on Dec. 9, 2019, said that FBI agents offered to pay Steele “significantly” to collect intelligence from three separate “buckets” that the bureau was pursuing as part of Crossfire Hurricane, its counterintelligence probe of four Trump campaign associates.
One bucket was “Additional intelligence/reporting on specific, named individuals (such as [Carter Page] or [Flynn]) involved in facilitating the Trump campaign-Russian relationship,” the IG report stated.
FBI agents also sought contact with “any individuals or sub sources” who Steele could provide to “serve as cooperating witnesses to assist in identifying persons involved in the Trump campaign-Russian relationship.”
Steele at the time had provided the FBI with reports he compiled alleging that members of the Trump campaign had conspired with the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.
Lokhova, a Russian-British academic who studied at the University of Cambridge, has vehemently denied allegations that she was Flynn’s mistress, saying that she has only met Flynn once, at a 2014 Cambridge event.
Lokhova’s husband has told the Daily Caller News Foundation that he picked Lokhova up after the Cambridge dinner and that she did not leave with Flynn. A DIA official who attended the Cambridge event with Flynn also told TheWSJ in March 2017 that Flynn did not engage in any improper behavior.
Lokhova said FBI informant Stefan Halper invited her to the Cambridge event that was set up purportedly to honor Flynn. In retrospect, she says government spies were actually targeting him.
“I believe that General Flynn was targeted and I was used to do that, Lokhova told Fox News in an interview last year.