Attorney General Bill Barr has asked U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash to review the practice of "unmasking" before and after the 2016 presidential election, a controversy that has picked up steam after the Justice Department moved to drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the DOJ told Fox News on Wednesday night.
Republican lawmakers have demanded more information about the extent of the practice after a previously clandestine list of Obama-era officials who sought to reveal what turned out to be the identity of Michael Flynn in intelligence reports was released earlier the month. The DOJ had moved to drop the Flynn case after internal memos were released raising serious questions about the nature of the investigation that led to his late-2017 guilty plea for lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts.
DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told Fox News' "Hannity" that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation, was looking into "unmasking" but Barr determined certain aspects of the practice needed further review, and Bash has been assigned to do so.
"Unmasking inherently isn't wrong, but certainly, the frequency, the motivation and the reasoning behind unmasking can be problematic, and when you're looking at unmasking as part of a broader investigation -- like John Durham's investigation -- looking specifically at who was unmasking whom, can add a lot to our understanding about motivation and big picture events," Kupec said.