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Washington Post: Trump-hyped investigation into Obama officials concludes without charges

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

US President Donald Trump (R) and US Attorney General William Barr step off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 1, 2020. - US President Donald Trump said September 1, 2020 on a visit to protest-hit Kenosha, Wisconsin that recent anti-police demonstrations in the city were acts of "domestic terror" committed by violent mobs. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The US attorney tasked by Attorney General William Barr to review instances of "unmasking" -- the practice of releasing the names of American citizens who are caught up in National Security Agency foreign intelligence reports -- done around the 2016 election has completed the probe without bringing any charges, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

Washington (CNN)The US attorney tasked by Attorney General William Barr to review instances of "unmasking" -- the practice of releasing the names of American citizens who are caught up in National Security Agency foreign intelligence reports -- done around the 2016 election has completed the probe without bringing any charges, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.

While Republicans for months have hyped the Obama-era unmasking requests as an enormous scandal, John Bash found no evidence of substantive wrongdoing in his investigation, which has concluded without a public report, the Post said.

The investigation was announced in May after then-acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell declassified a list of names of former Obama administration officials who allegedly had requested the "unmasking" of the identify of Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

The names of American citizens in NSA foreign intelligence documents are always redacted, but certain government officials have the authority to request to have the names unredacted, or unmasked.

Senate Republicans later released the list, which named Obama administration officials who "may have received" Flynn's identity in NSA intelligence reports after requests to unmask Americans.

The Republican senators who released the documents -- Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa -- said they weren't alleging Biden had committed any wrongdoing but argued the information presented questions to which they wanted answers.

The NSA said in its declassified memo disclosing the names that all of the officials had the authority to view the reports and the agency's standard procedures had been followed.

Despite Trump's repeated efforts to cite unmasking as evidence of wrongdoing by Obama and his administration, the level of unmasking has increased under the Trump administration.

There were more than 10,000 unmaskings last year and nearly 17,000 in 2018, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's Statistical Transparency reports.

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