Great question — and perhaps George Stephanopoulos should get an answer to it. Yesterday, Trump called out both Joe Biden and the ABC News host over Biden’s earlier lie on Good Morning America that he knew nothing about the investigation into Michael Flynn. Hours later, the declassified list of unmaskers included Joe Biden’s name, with a request a full week after the meeting that Biden claimed was his only connection to the Flynn probe.
“So how do you know nothing if you’re one of the unmaskers?” Trump wondered, and told reporters they should get to the bottom of it:
President Trump suggested former Vice President Joe Biden was not truthful about his knowledge of the FBI’s Russia investigation after his name was on a list released by Republicans of Obama-era officials who requested the “unmasking” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn in intelligence reports.
“The unmasking is a massive thing,” Trump told reporters in the Cabinet Room on Wednesday. “I watched Biden yesterday on ‘Good Morning America’ being interviewed by one of your colleagues, George Stephanopoulos, and he said he knew nothing about anything.”
“He has no idea, he knows nothing about anything. Nothing at all. And then it gets released today that he was a big unmasker,” the president continued. “So how do you know nothing if you’re one of the unmaskers?”
One might have thought that Stephanopoulos himself would address this issue, since Biden lied about it to his audience. At least from GMA’s Twitter feed, though, it doesn’t appear that the show even discussed the issue of the flurry of unmasking requests that came from Obama administration officials after the 2016 election, most of whom — like Biden — have no reason to peek under the hood of a counterintelligence operation.
Reporters had better start asking questions about it, Rand Paul warned yesterday evening. “This is exactly what they they were accusing President Trump of,” Paul said at a press conference after the release of the unmasking-request list, “using government to go after a political opponent”:
“These rumors have been going around for years that Obama’s administration was abusing te power of unmasking, and this sounds like they were using it to go after a political opponent, which is a serious offense and should be investigated,” Paul said. “The fact that Vice President Biden is directly involved in the unmasking of a political opponent — think about it. You remember impeachment? They said the president was using the government to go after a political opponent? This is Vice President Biden using the spying powers of the U.S. to go after a political opponent and he is caught red-handed here… eavesdropping on a political opponent’s phone calls.”
“Every reporter in the country needs to ask this legitimate question. They need to come out of hibernation and ask Vice President Biden, do we think it is a legitimate function of government to eavesdrop on political opponents, illegally unmask them and listen to their private conversation?”
“This is exactly what they were accusing President Trump of — he was acquitted on those charges. They have now found that Vice President Biden is guilty of using government to go after a political opponent.”
One reporter got into the swing of things immediately. Just how did all these people know about the Flynn conversation in the first place, if it came from a counterintelligence operation? That’s a very good question, Paul says — and he’s correct. When the US ambassador to Italy is filing an unmasking request about a conversation between a presidential transition team and a Russian ambassador, it’s clear that the administration in place was being indiscreet, at the very least. Paul says that it’s more of a sign of an administration “abusing its power to go after a political opponent,” and it needs more investigation. A lot more investigation.
“The question really is,” Paul concludes, “was the Vice President leading this effort to go after General Flynn, or was it President Obama?” I’m sure the national media will get right on that question, but Paul did announce that the Senate would take it up themselves anyway.