Rep. Adam Schiff called on Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell to declassify the underlying intelligence reports on former national security adviser Michael Flynn so the American public may have a "complete public record free of political manipulation."
Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, wrote Grenell a letter Thursday blasting him for selectively declassifying the names of several Obama administration officials who "acted appropriately" to seek the identity of a U.S. person in intelligence reports -- who turned out to be Flynn-- while failing to also declassify the transcript of conversations Flynn had with the Russian ambassador that prompted their national security concerns.
Schiff said Grenell's selective declassification of the list of Obama administration officials is "without precedent" and "corrupt."
"It was a transparent political act—in an election year and during a pandemic, no less—in which you used the authorities of your position to insinuate wrongdoing by officials who acted appropriately in requesting the identity of masked U.S. persons to better understand foreign intelligence reports," Schiff, D-Calif., wrote. "This is inconsistent with the oath and obligations of an acting Director of National Intelligence."
Schiff added: "Selective declassification for political purposes is inappropriate, corrupt, and undermines public confidence in the IC as an apolitical pillar protecting the country regardless of the political affiliation of its Executive Branch customers.”
Grenell confirmed he's working to declassify more information on Flynn's case that's under his jurisdiction. "The public deserves to see it," he tweeted.
But, Grenell hit back against Democrats on Twitter and accused them of trying to hide intelligence that didn't fit their agenda. He tweeted: "Transparency is now a must!"
Flynn was fired by President Trump for lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his pre-inauguration contacts with the Russian ambassador. Flynn eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those communications, but Trump's Attorney General William Barr is now seeking to drop the criminal case against Flynn in light of the new information release and concluding the FBI did not have a "legitimate" basis to conduct the interview the Flynn.
Sens. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, also made similar requests to declassify transcripts of Flynn's phone calls with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and any reports summarizing their calls.
Grenell's time as acting director of the DNI is limited since the Senate Thursday confirmed outgoing Texas GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe to the permanent post.
The list of Obama officials who sought the identity of the U.S. person mentioned in intelligence reports was revealed earlier this month and found that then-Vice President Joe Biden was on the list with then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Obama's then-chief of staff Denis McDonough.
It's not illegal for an authorized person to request the identity of a U.S. person in intelligence reports. Unmasking requests are quite common.
Data obtained by Fox News shows that thousands of unmasking requests have been fulfilled every year across both the Obama and Trump administrations, reflecting the often routine nature of these requests in intelligence work. The practice is regarded as an important national security tool, a view reflected by these numbers.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence reported that in 2019, the Trump administration had 10,012 unmasking requests fulfilled; 16,721 requests fulfilled in 2018, and 9,529 requests fulfilled in 2017.
During 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, there were 9,217 unmasking requests fulfilled.
Fox News' Brooke Singman, Gillian Turner and Chad Pergram contributed to this report.