A vociferous critic of President Donald Trump is now in agreement with the president and his allies on one thing.
Attorney Mark Zaid said he believes that whoever leaked information about former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s phone call with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak should be prosecuted.
Zaid, who represented the individual who filed a whistleblower complaint about the president’s dealings with Ukraine which led Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry, tweeted on Saturday, “I fully agree that whoever illegally leaked classified details of #Kisylak call should be disciplined, lose their security clearance and/or be prosecuted.”
I disagree w/@marcthiessen abt #Flynn & he conflates significance of unmasking requests.— Mark S. Zaid (@MarkSZaidEsq) May 16, 2020
But I fully agree that whoever illegally leaked classified details of #Kisylak call should be disciplined, lose their security clearance and/or be prosecuted. https://t.co/7tnRMjOKJc
Zaid shared an op-ed written by conservative columnist Marc Thiessen about unmasking requests that revealed Flynn had a phone call with Kislyak in December 2016.
However, Zaid said he disagrees with Thiessen about the case against Flynn and the “significance of unmasking requests.“
Speaking to Law & Crime, Zaid explained his position, “The [National Security Agency] intelligence intercept is a classified document.”
He continued, “So, too, is information that is revealed due to unmasking. This information is maintained in classified systems and only those authorized with a need to know have access. To release that information to unauthorized third parties, particularly the media, is a felony.”
“Whoever leaked the information violated their secrecy, non-disclosure agreements and broke the law–unless they were authorized to do so, regarding which there’s no evidence to support that posture,” he added.
Zaid appears to be referring to information about the investigation — including details about Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak — that was leaked to the press in 2017.
Last week, a group of Republican senators released a list of unmasking requests made by officials in former President Barack Obama’s administration. That list showed that several officials received unmasking information about Flynn, but it was unclear if they saw it, as IJR reported.
While Republicans claimed that the list was evidence that members of the Obama administration illegally eavesdropped on Trump associates, some fired back and explained how the unmasking process works.
“That U.S. person’s name is ‘masked’ or protected by being referred to as ‘U.S. person one,’” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said.
He added, “You don’t know who it is in advance … So in my case, the list cites .. three occasions where I requested unmasking which turned out to be Mike Flynn.”
While many have noted that unmasking requests are legal, they have pointed out that it is illegal to leak classified information and called for an investigation into the leaking of information related to the Flynn investigation.