James Clapper: Unmasking And/Or Jeff Sessions?

I’m traveling so I’ll have to lay out my thoughts about the Comey firing later.

But for the moment I want to point to a detail in Monday’s hearing that deserves more attention now.

Early in the hearing, Chuck Grassley asked both Sally Yates and James Clapper if they have ever unmasked a Trump associate or member of Congress. Yates said no, but Clapper revealed he had unmasked someone, but couldn’t say more.

GRASSLEY: OK. I want to discuss unmasking.

Mr. Clapper and Ms. Yates, did either of you ever request the unmasking of Mr. Trump, his associates or any member of Congress?

CLAPPER: Yes, in one case I did that I can specifically recall, but I can’t discuss it any further than that.

GRASSLEY: You can’t, so if I ask you for details, you said you can’t discuss that, is that what you said?

CLAPPER: Not — not here.

Grassley returned to the issue for clarification later on. Clapper said he had asked to have the identity of both a member of Congress and a Trump associate unmasked. But then he said he had only asked on one occasion.

GRASSLEY: Mr. Clapper, you said yes when I asked you if you ever unmasked a Trump associate or a member of Congress. But I forgot to ask, which was it? Was it a Trump associate, a member of Congress, or both?

CLAPPER: Over my time as DNI, I think the answer was on rare occasion, both. And, again, Senator, just to make the point here, my focus was on the foreign target and at the foreign target’s behavior in relation to the U.S. person.

GRASSLEY: OK. How many instances were there, or was there just one?

CLAPPER: I can only recall one.

Finally, Lindsey Graham returned to the issue at the close of the hearing. Clapper confirmed he had made a request to unmask a Trump associate and a member of Congress.

You made a request for unmasking on a Trump associate and maybe a member of Congress? Is that right, Mr. Clapper?


Obviously, there’s plenty of room for confusion in these exchanges, and Clapper has a history of sowing confusion in Congressional testimony.

But if it is true that he has only unmasked one person but that he has unmasked both a Trump associate and a member of Congress, it would suggest he unmasked the identity of a member of Congress who is a Trump associate.

If that’s right, there are several possibilities for who it could be: transition official Devin Nunes, national security advisor Richard Burr, and national security official Jeff Sessions.

But the most likely is Sessions, because we know he was talking to Sergey Kislyak and the intelligence community has pulled their collection on Kislyak.

Even if that’s the case, it’s unsurprising Sessions’ communications with Kislyak have been reviewed and unmasked.

Still, it is a data point from Monday’s hearing that makes Sessions’ role in the firing of Jim Comey worth noting.

8 replies
  1. harpie says:


     Still, it is a data point from Monday’s hearing that makes Sessions’ role in the firing of Jim Comey worth noting.

    Right,and [as bmaz has retweeted] Nicholas Blake tweets:

    Can we abandon this pretense that Sessions has recused himself on Russia? If it were so, he wouldn’t be interviewing the next investigator.

  2. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: The updated 12333 Obama signed off on. The Intel sharing EO.

    My reading, and Bmaz can parse it very well I am certain, is that there is actually an IC intel sharing path that has been overlooked. I.E., it is not just raw SIGINT from NSA to other IC members. Which means that the Comey firing may not stop *any* ongoing investigations regarding Russia. I belIeve intel (not just raw SIGINT), can actually flow back to NSA. Which, if true, means that all of the good eggs can end up in in the NSA basket. I have my concerns about NSA (corrupt moles) as Marcy knows well, but since the other IC members do not seem to be doing much in recent years, maybe this will work out.

    Not going to connect too many dots here for various reasons. But, keywords or phrases to look for:

    MOA, 3 years, 5 years,
    “An IC element may disseminate U.S. person information”




  3. klynn says:

    I like your thinking SLP.

    EW: I was hoping you were going to discuss this line of Q & A from Monday’s hearing. It was like a feedback loop.

  4. SpaceLifeForm says:

    Guessing Spicer has taken ‘vacation’.
    (I.E., he quit as I predicted he would, or was fired. Thrown under bus yesterday. If you can not lie for #UnfitForOffice, you will be gone)

    The ‘SPIN’ is incredible.


    President Donald Trump had been thinking about firing FBI Director James Comey since Election Day, White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.

    [No, the evidence says otherwise, This is complete BS. If #UnfitForOffice was ‘thinking’ about it then, he would have done it 4 months ago. This is BS. #UnfitForOffice in CYA mode]

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Do not attempt to open or print a PDF on Windows, especially Windows 10 with Edge browser. Suspect a horrible attempt at watermarking. (maybe intentional)


    Beyond being breathtakingly bizarre, the bug could potentially have serious consequences for architects, engineers, lawyers, and other professionals who rely on Edge to print drawings, blueprints, legal briefs, and similarly sensitive documents.

  6. SpaceLifeForm says:

    OT: Anyone else smell smoke?

    Senate intelligence committee subpoenas Michael Flynn


    The subpoena comes after Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, alerted the panel that he would not provide documents in response to their April 28 request.



    Flynn had previously offered to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees — which are both investigating Russian interference in the election — in exchange for immunity, but it does not appear that either committee has accepted the offer.

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