Michael Flynn's Unmaskers May Soon Be Unmasked as Judge Slows Down Bid to End his Case

Richard Grenell, acting director of national intelligence, has given the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) the names of Obama administration officials involved in identifying then-national security adviser Michael Flynn's as the Trump campaign official who had a late 2016 conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a conversation Flynn later lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about.

Judge Emmet Gael Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the Washington D.C., has slowed down attempts by DOJ officials to drop the case against Flynn by pledging to schedule a period for soliciting amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) briefs from outside parties who wish to comment on the federal government's desire to dismiss its charges against Flynn.

Flynn's "unmasking" by the Obama Administration turned the former national security adviser from an individual anonymously referred to in an intelligence document to a specifically named person subject to questioning by the FBI. The FBI questioned Flynn on January 24, 2017, and Flynn lied to the bureau about the nature of his conversations with Kislyak.

In the last days of 2016, Flynn told Kislyak to urge the Russian government not to retaliate against the U.S. after President Barak Obamas' sanctions imposed on Russia for their interference in the 2016 presidential elections. Flynn didn't realize at the time that he was under federal surveillance, ordered by the Obama Administration, to investigate possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The day after the U.S. Justice Department—under the leadership of Attorney General William Barr—moved to drop all charges against Flynn on May 7, Grenell declassified the list of Obama administration officials involved with unmasking Flynn and provided the names to the U.S. Justice Department, according to The Washington Post.

Grenell's handing over of the Obama Administration officials' names could aid Barr's 2019 appointment of career federal prosecutor John H. Durham to investigate the origins of the Obama administration's investigation into possible ties between Trump and Russia, according to a Justice Department official who spoke the Post anonymously to candidly discuss the sensitive matter.

The source added that the Justice Department "does not intend to release the list," but it remains unclear whether Grenell might release the list on his own.

Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Justice Department for comment. This story will be updated with any response.

Michael Flynn
Retired United States Army lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn introduces Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump before he delivered a speech at The Union League of Philadelphia on September 7, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Trump spoke about his plans to build up the military if elected. Recent national polls show the presidential race is tightening with two months until the election. Mark Makela/Getty

Flynn's lawyers on Tuesday filed a court brief giving his consent to the federal case against him being dropped.

"Mr. Flynn agrees that the dismissal of this case meets the interests of justice and requests that this matter be dismissed immediately, with prejudice," Flynn defense lawyer Sidney Powell and her co-counsel wrote.

However, Judge Sullivan's solicitation of outside opinions on the case suggests that he may not be ready to drop the federal charges so easily, and may want to consider their potential impact leading into the 2020 U.S. Presidential elections.