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    Bill Barr risks the ire of Trump after ‘unmasking’ probe finds no wrongdoing

    Bill Barr risks the ire of Trump after ‘unmasking’ probe into misconduct by Obama and Joe Biden in FBI Flynn investigation finds no wrongdoing and will not lead to criminal charges

    • Bill Barr, attorney general, in May asked US Attorney John Bash to investigate
    • Bash was asked to look into ‘unmasking’ of Michael Flynn ordered by officials 
    • Flynn was referred to as an unnamed US citizen in intelligence reports
    • Biden, Comey, Clapper, Brennan and others asked who the citizen was
    • Unmasking is common as it gives a better sense of the context of a report
    • Trump seized upon the unmasking of Flynn as sign of spying on his campaign 
    • Bash has handed in his report and resigned from the Justice Department
    • Barr has declined to make the conclusions of the report public
    • The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that they showed no wrongdoing 

    A federal prosecutor who was asked to investigate whether Obama-era officials acted improperly in the ‘unmasking’ of Americans mentioned in intelligence reports has failed to find any substantive wrongdoing, according to a report.

    The Washington Post on Tuesday reported that John Bash, United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, had handed in his findings and concluded there was no major misconduct.

    Bash was assigned by Bill Barr, the attorney general, in May the task of reviewing the 2016 ‘unmasking’ actions. 

    His report found no evidence of wrongdoing, in a blow to Donald Trump, who has repeatedly claimed that Obama officials acted unlawfully. 

    On October 5 Bash announced he was resigning, effective October 9, to enter private practice.

    Asked Tuesday if Bash had quit over anything related to unmasking, Kerri Kupec, the Department of Justice (DoJ) spokesman, said: ‘No, that was not my understanding.’ 

    Michael Flynn’s name appeared in intelligence reports because he spoke to people who were being listened to by the US intelligence agencies

    John Bash, the US Attorney for Western Texas (pictured), left the DoJ on October 9

    John Bash, the US Attorney for Western Texas (pictured), left the DoJ on October 9

    Bash was asked to look into the actions of officials including Joe Biden; James Comey, the former FBI director; former White House chief of staff Denis McDonough; former CIA director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper.

    They were all privy to classified intelligence reports which suggested that an American citizen had been speaking to individuals who were being monitored by the intelligence agencies.

    That person was later found to be Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s short-lived National Security Agency head.

    Bash’s work investigating the ‘unmasking’ – the revealing of Flynn’s name – was in addition to inquiries that Barr ordered by carried out by John Durham, attorney for Connecticut, and Jeff Jensen in St. Louis, who had been tapped specially to review the Flynn case and ultimately advised that the Justice Department should drop it. 

    Durham is looking at unmasking as part of his broader investigation into the FBI’s 2016 probe of whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the election.

    Barr recently told some Republican politicians that no report of Durham’s investigation would be released before the November election. 

    Bill Barr, the attorney general, in May asked Bash to investigate the 'unmasking'

    Bill Barr, the attorney general, in May asked Bash to investigate the ‘unmasking’

    Trump has in recent days called the delay in the Durham case ‘a disgrace’.

    He is yet to respond to the news of Bash’s findings, which will unlikely come as a deep disappointment.

    ‘Unmasking’ is common because it allows government officials to better understand a document they are reading. 

    Bash’s team was focused not just on unmasking, but also on whether Obama-era officials provided information to reporters, the paper reported. 

    The findings ultimately turned over to Barr fell short of what Trump and others might have hoped, and the attorney general’s office elected not to release them publicly, people familiar with the matter told the Post.

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