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Grassley requests records from DOJ on findings of investigation of Flynn-Kislyak transcript leak

Sen. Grassley wants all records related to the leak investigation, which he suggests was meant to undermine Trump in the early days of the administration

Updated: January 23, 2021 - 1:31pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.), the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to the acting attorney general of the Biden administration Justice Department on Friday asking him to explain findings regarding the leak of classified transcripts of the Michael Flynn – Sergey Kislyak phone conversations in December of 2016.  

News that the investigation had ended with no one being charged in the code-named Operation Echo was quietly revealed in a January 19 New York Times article about an investigation of Republican Senator Richard Burr that had just wrapped up.

"…investigators opened a leak case into a Washington Post column about phone calls in late 2016 between Sergey I. Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States, and Michael T. Flynn, then Mr. Trump’s incoming national security adviser. The leak was one of several matters under scrutiny by John H. Durham, the special counsel investigating the officials who opened the Russia investigation," the Times wrote.

"Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney's office in Washington investigated whether the disclosures came from former Obama administration officials who had access to sensitive information about the phone calls, according to two people familiar with the investigation. The investigators ultimately found no wrongdoing, one of the people said," according to the Times.

"It's especially concerning when Congress is left in the dark while the Department continues to leak about its own leak probe to the press," Grassley said in his letter to the DOJ. "The American people need assurances that the Justice Department will hold its employees to at least the same standard that it holds the rest of the country."

"Time and again, we see examples of double standards when it comes to enforcing laws against mishandling classified information," Grassley added. "The transcripts of Lt. Gen. Flynn's call with the Russian ambassador were classified, so how can leaks about them be ok? It's especially concerning when Congress is left in the dark while the Department continues to leak about its own leak probe to the press."

Grassley reminded the DOJ that he had requested last May that the transcripts be declassified, and they were. He said that the "sensitive information" contained in the leak to the Washington Post was "most likely designed to undermine the Trump administration in its first days."

Now he wants to know if the Times report of a finding that "no wrongdoing" was established "is in fact true and accurate." 

Grassley has requested of the Justice Department that all records, including any "closing memoranda" from the investigation, be provided no later than Feb. 5, 2021.