Former DNI James Clapper Says He '[Doesn't] Recall' Why He Requested Flynn Be Unmasked

Brittany M. Hughes | May 14, 2020
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After a list was made public Wednesday revealing the names of more than three dozen Obama administration officials involved in the “unmasking” of former Trump NSA Director Michael Flynn, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, whose name appears on the list, told CNN he doesn’t remember why he asked that Flynn’s name be unredacted from the report.

For reference, “unmasking” is when the name of a U.S. citizen who’s been unwittingly caught up in foreign surveillance by the U.S. government is revealed upon the request of government officials. Typically, those names are redacted to safeguard the person’s privacy in line with federal laws against spying on American citizens. But when the person’s identity is determined to be necessary in understanding the intelligence, that person can be “unmasked” to certain individuals, and on a need-to-know basis.


When asked by CNN's John Berman how often U.S. citizens were unmasked during his time as DNI, Clapper said he “[doesn’t] recall the exact number, but estimates it occurred “perhaps once or twice a week.”

“Not every day, but fairly frequently,” he said. “It’s a routine thing, it’s appropriate and legitimate.”

“Do you remember why you made these specific…these requests to unmask [Flynn]?” Berman asked.

“No I don’t recall what prompted a request on my behalf for unmasking,” Clapper responded. “I don’t remember the specifics or what it was in the report that was suggestive enough that I was concerned and felt that I should know who was actually involved.”

The Trump administration has alleged Flynn was targeted by the Obama administration and illegally "unmasked" for political purposes in an effort to bolster the left's claims that the Trump camp had colluded with Russia to rig to 2016 election.

In that same interview with CNN, Clapper confirmed again that he "did not" find any evidence of "collusion" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

(Cover Photo: Gage Skidmore)