Wednesday on Fox News Channel, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) reacted to the release of a list of Obama-era officials that sought unmasking of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, which included former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee.
Nunes speculated when Donald Trump was elected president, there was a spree of unmasking by the Obama administration.
He also questioned why the media did not pursue the sourcing, given the apparent conclusion was the process of unmasking was occurring on a mass scale.
Partial transcript as follows:
BREAM: Let’s talk about a lot of the news that dropped today. This list of those who were a part of the Obama administration, some of them had worked across multiple administrations, but primarily Obama administration officials who were unmasking Americans.
Now, critics of this, and there are plenty, point out that people don’t know who they’re unmasking. When they know that there is an American on a phone call or in a document that they want to know about it, how would they have known it was Michael Flynn?
NUNES: Well, I would ask a better question is, what the hell were they doing unmasking like this? So, the only logical conclusion is, is — and it goes back to what I said in the early part of 2017 when I came out and made all of this public, I was attacked by the media.
Instead of the media and the Democrat — and the arm of the Democratic Party, instead of them asking me, hey, you know, where did you — you know, what do you think is wrong with this, what are the problems, who did it? All they asked me is, where did you get this information from? Oh, my God, he’s sharing information.
Remember all of that? I don’t know if you recall all of that. I bet your viewers do.
NUNES: But what I was talking about there is I had seen a number of Trump transition officials that were appearing in reports and were being unmasked.
So, General Flynn is really just the tip of the iceberg. What it appears to me like what they were doing is a lot of them went wild after Trump won. They got poisoned with this Russia hoax.
So, you had — that’s why you had Obama ambassadors across the — across the globe unmasking — all of them were just unmasking and then leaking out about anyone within the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team that they could.
And you had the media who were taking those leaks — and remember, these are just intelligence products. They’re not — they’re not necessarily — when you look at intelligence products, it doesn’t mean that it’s fact. And it’s classified.
So, the fact that they would be taking that information, unmasking whoever that was and leaking it to the press, it’s a big problem.
And, you know, General Flynn —
NUNES: — you know, that was, as I said from the very beginning of all of this, the only crime I had ever seen was the unmasking and putting out the transcripts of General Flynn’s name.
There was never any Russian collusion. There was nothing to do with Russia. And, you know, when it came out and told everybody that, you know, largely, this was ignored, because you know why?
BREAM: Yes, you took a lot of heat.
NUNES: The media was in on this. The media was taking this information from the dossier, and all this Russian nonsense. They had taken this all through 2016. And then when Hillary Clinton didn’t win, they went crazy and used the intelligence services to their political advantage.
BREAM: Well — and we know that there were people who leaked information and apparently have not paid a price for it, at least not — you know, we have been told that, you know, leaks are a terrible thing, and that people should get cracked down on for that, and we know that it did not always happen in these cases.
So, let me read you, though, something and get your — because you’re talking about these leaks, about these dates. The Wall Street Journal editorial board talks about this. It says: The McDonough, of course, he was chief of staff to President Obama, unmasking took place January 5, 2017, the day of the Oval Office meeting in which Mr. Flynn was discussed.
Mr. Biden’s unmasking request was made January 12, 2017, the day The Washington Post reported on the Flynn-Russia conversation, Mr. Biden has some explaining to do.
What do those dates mean to you? What’s the connection?
NUNES: Well, it goes back to kind of what I said at the beginning. What on earth where these high-ranking Obama officials doing unmasking these reports in the first place?
You know, these are similar reports. We get finished intelligence product reports in the Congress. You know, we have never requested to unmask any American at all.
So, why and in the waning days of Obama administration would they be doing this?
I think there’s — there’s only one — there’s only one logical conclusion. Joe Biden and his office, and McDonough, they were all doing what the rest of them had been doing for the few months after the election. They were unmasking anyone and everyone so that they could leak information to a press that was willing to take that — that illegal information to build a fake, phony narrative to set up numerous people on the Trump team, not just General Flynn.
BREAM: Well, let me — let me ask you —
NUNES: General Flynn played a bit — paid a big price for it, because —
BREAM: All right.
NUNES: — he was put under investigation by the dirty cops at the FBI and the Clinton campaign in 2016.
BREAM: Let me ask you really quickly because we have to go, but if all of that is true and if people are found guilty in some way, whatever sense of the word you want to take that, of wrongdoing, yes or no, is anybody actually going to pay?
NUNES: Well, the — well, the wrongdoing is very clear. Whoever gave those transcripts to “The Post”, to the article that you mentioned and before that, there was another article by an opinion writer for The Post, whoever gave that information and those transcripts, clearly, that was illegal. That’s why I said at the very time, that’s the only law I ever saw that was actually broken.
And it’s amazing that we went through $40 million of Mueller, and he didn’t even find that. I don’t know what the hell he was doing with the $40 million.
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