In a desperate attempt to help President Donald Trump’s reelection chances, Attorney General Bill Barr tapped a federal prosecutor to investigate whether Obama administration officials improperly requested the unmasking of individuals during the 2016 election. The move was intended to change the national conversation and have the media focus on Obama ahead of the election. But the probe concluded without “finding any wrongdoing,” by the Obama administration, and Trump is furious.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that “Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Bash to review whether there was wrongdoing by the Obama administration in requesting the identities of individuals — in particular Trump allies — whose names are redacted in intelligence reports during the heated election.”
The practice, known as unmasking, is common and done to help government officials make sense of the intelligence documents they are reviewing, but President Trump and his allies have alleged that Obama-era officials acted improperly in making a series of unmasking requests that ultimately led to former Trump campaign aide Michael Flynn’s name being unmasked.
Bash and his team reviewed unmasking practices as well as whether officials at the time improperly leaked information to reporters, according to The Post. Bash reportedly turned over his findings to Barr, whose office chose not to publicly release them. The findings did not rise to the allegations Trump and his allies have made about wrongdoing, according to the report.
Bash announced that he would be leaving the Department of Justice (DOJ) in October without making any mention of the unmasking probe, but The Post reported that the move came after he had concluded his investigation. No criminal charges were made, and a report of his findings will not be released publicly, leaving President Trump without the talking points he desperately wanted.
The news further infuriated Trump, who responded by attacking Barr.
“If that’s the case, I’m very disappointed,” Trump told Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio host. “I think it’s a terrible thing, and I will say it to [Barr’s] face.”
The Post noted it was unable to review Bash’s full findings.