Trump has been distracted recently from managing the pandemic by fixating on Flynn and related matters, ranting in private about the Russia investigation, complaining about Comey and others in the FBI and making clear he wanted to talk in the run-up to the election about law enforcement targeting him, according to one adviser who spoke with the president last week.

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has been focused extensively on the Flynn situation and has discussed it regularly with Trump, seeing it as vindication of his long-held skepticism toward the Russia probe, according to two senior administration officials…

“This is something Trump is very good at,” said Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. attorney in the Obama administration. “He takes things that are the normal course of business — like, for instance, people who are authorized for unmasking so they can make sense of intelligence data — and turn them into something suspicious. It becomes an us-versus-them moment.”…

Last Thursday, when Grenell showed up at the Justice Department to deliver the list to Barr, the visit and Fox News’s apparent knowledge of it took some senior officials there aback. Grenell, who had been ambassador to Germany before assuming the intelligence post on a temporary basis, has long associated with some of Trump’s most vocal right-wing supporters and has earned plaudits from the president for his tweets attacking journalists.