Attorney General William Barr had appointed a federal prosecutor to review whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals whose names were redacted in intelligence documents.
On Tuesday, it was reported that U.S. Attorney John Bash concluded his investigation without criminal charges. At a time when the president is upset with the Justice Department, Bash’s conclusion of a review without any public report or criminal charges will likely rattle Trump, especially with the election approaching soon.
According to The Washington Post:
‘The department has so far declined to release the results of Bash’s work, though people familiar with his findings say they would likely disappoint conservatives who have tried to paint the “unmasking” of names — a common practice in government to help understand classified documents — as a political conspiracy.’
Legal analysts have reviewed Bash’s review as a way for Trump and other conservatives to target political opponents. Even if the investigation turned up no results, it still allowed Trump and other allies to say that Obama-era officials were under scrutiny.
The Justice Department, under both Barr and the previous attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has:
‘repeatedly turned to U.S. attorneys across the country to investigate matters of Republican concern, distressing current and former Justice Department officials, who fear that department leaders are repeatedly caving to Trump’s pressure to benefit his allies and target those he perceives as political enemies.’
Bash’s review was first revealed in May by Kerri Kubec, the Justice Department’s top spokeswoman. Republican senators made a declassified list of U.S. officials, including former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Requests were made that ultimately revealed the name of Trump adviser Michael Flynn in intelligence documents in late 2016 and early 2017.
Kubec told Fox News host Sean Hannity that even though unmasking “inherently isn’t wrong,” the frequency with which requests were made or the motive for making them could be “problematic.”
The Post reported:
‘Though “unmasking” is common and appropriate because it allows government officials to better understand a document they are reading, Trump and others suggested the list of requests that ultimately revealed Flynn’s name showed wrongdoing.’
Bash’s team was also focused on whether Obama-era officials provided information to reporters, according to people familiar with the probe. However, the findings turned over to Attorney General Barr fell short of what Trump and others might have hoped.
Last week, Bash announced that he was leaving the Justice Department, which surprised many since the move came so close to the election. He issued a statement saying he had “accepted an offer for a position in the private sector,” which he had informed Barr of a month earlier.
On October 5, Bash provided official resignation letters to Trump and Attorney General Barr. Barr said:
‘I appreciate his service to our nation and to the Justice Department, and I wish him the very best.’
On Tuesday, Kupec was asked if Bash quit over anything related to unmasking, and responded:
‘No, that was not my understanding.’
Kupec continued, saying:
‘Without commenting on any specific investigation, any matters that John Bash was overseeing will be assumed by Gregg Sofer.’
Featured image is a screenshot via Twitter