Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress, and Trump surrogates have been pushing a story for years that officials in the Obama administration improperly leaked to the media that Michael Flynn, then an official with the Trump campaign, had been mentioned in intelligence reports focused on a foreign target of investigation.
Revealing the names of people who are not the target of intelligence gathering themselves is known as "unmasking." Only certain officials can request that a person whose identity has been concealed in intelligence reporting be revealed.
Flynn had been recorded speaking with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Trump demanded an investigation into the alleged unmasking, dubbing it "Obamagate," and Attorney General William Barr complied, assigning U.S. Attorney John Bash to the task.
However, the Washington Postreported Tuesday night that Bash's investigation turned up a big goose egg: no wrongdoing and no recommendation for any charges. Barr did not announce the conclusions publicly.
The revelation that the investigation was a dud comes just a few months after the Department of Justice confirmed it was taking place, after GOP Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Rand Paul of Kentucky released a list of Obama-era officials they claimed "unmasked" Flynn.
The unmasking investigation turning up nothing is the latest "scandal" pushed by the GOP that was actually not a scandal at all.
Earlier this year, yet another investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails — which Trump is still trying to make into a scandal nearly four years after Clinton last ran against him — found no wrongdoing.
And late last month, a GOP-led investigation into Democratic nominee Joe Biden's relations with Ukraine, which even Republicans admitted was a nakedly political attempt to try to hurt Biden's presidential bid, failed to turn up any wrongdoing.
The conclusion of the "Obamagate" investigation comes as Trump has started lashing out at his own administration officials, demanding that Barr arrest his political opponents as polls show him trailing Biden in his bid for reelection.
Trump is in desperate need of something that could change the trajectory of the race, as he is currently behind in polling by nearly 11 points nationally, according to FiveThirtyEight's average.
Yet with just three weeks to go until Election Day, and with more than 13 million votes already cast, time is running out for Trump to reverse his fortunes.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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