Former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell slammed the Obama-Biden administration for “secretly” launching a “surveillance operation” on the Trump campaign in 2016, while saying that American citizens are “in charge” under a Trump presidency.
Earlier this year, while serving as acting DNI, Grenell declassified a slew of documents related to the Russia investigation — and he shared his experience with voters on the third night of the GOP convention.
“As acting director of national intelligence, I saw the Democrats’ entire case for Russia collusion, and what I saw made me sick to my stomach,” Grenell said during a GOP convention speech Wednesday night.
“The Obama-Biden administration secretly launched a surveillance operation on the Trump campaign, and silenced the many brave intelligence officials who spoke up against it,” Grenell continued. “They presented bogus information as facts. They lied to judges. Then they classified anything that undermined their case.”
Grenell claimed that when Trump won the election in 2016, instead of continuing “the American tradition of helping the president-elect transition into the White House,” the Obama-Biden administration “tried instead to undercut him even more.”
“Former Vice President Joe Biden asked intelligence officials to uncover the hidden information on President Trump’s incoming national security adviser three weeks before the inauguration,” Grenell said.
Grenell was referring to the process of unmasking, which occurs after U.S. citizens’ conversations with foreign officials are incidentally picked up while they are being monitored by the intelligence community. The U.S. citizens’ identities are supposed to be protected if their participation is incidental and no wrongdoing is suspected. However, officials can determine the U.S. citizens’ names through a process that is supposed to safeguard their rights. In the typical process, when officials are requesting the unmasking of an American, they do not necessarily know the identity of the person in advance.
Grenell, earlier this year, declassified a list of Obama officials who purportedly requested to “unmask” the identity of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The roster featured top-ranking figures including then-Vice President Joe Biden, 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.
However, 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, 9,217 unmasking requests were fulfilled.
Meanwhile, during his address Wednesday night, Grenell said that Democrats “never want the American people to know who’s actually calling the shots.”
“But with Donald Trump, you always know exactly who is in charge,” Grenell said. “Because the answer is you.”
“You’re in charge. Not lobbyists. Not special interests. Not warmongers, or China sympathizers, or globalization fanatics,” Grenell said. “With Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the White House, the boss is the American people.”
Prior to serving as acting director of national intelligence, Grenell served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 2018 to 2020, as the presidential envoy for Kosovo-Serbia Negotiations.
Grenell now serves as a senior adviser with the Republican National Committee, specifically focused on political outreach for LGBT voters, which Fox News first reported last week.