Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took to Twitter Monday to explain in clear terms to a liberal commentator why the "Obamagate" scandal is such a huge deal.
Gabriel Sherman, an opinion writer for the left-wing magazine Vanity Fair, was apparently confused about what conservatives find to be unseemly about the Obama administration's unmasking of American citizens, including retired Gen. Michael Flynn, in December 2016. Flynn, who was tapped to be President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, was surveilled in conversation with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
"Serious questions for Trumpers," Sherman wrote on Twitter last Friday. "What is the scandal of unmasking an American official caught on an intercept discussing US sanctions policy with Ambassador of a hostile foreign country that had just launched a massive cyber attack on our election?"
Sherman attempted to explain away the matter by suggesting that to unmask an American "caught" communicating with a foreign official of a hostile country is routine, even advisable. But the question frames the matter incorrectly.
Thankfully, Cruz was there to answer Sherman's question to perfection:
"Uhh, he was the incoming National Security Advisor & a 3-star general. He's SUPPOSED to discuss sanctions policy. That's his job," Cruz explained. "The unmasking was part of outgoing admin launching a massive sting operation to try to entrap him. Maybe this helps: imagine Bush doing same to Obama."
The issue is not that Flynn was in conversations with Kislyak, as Cruz clarified, but rather that the surveillance and subsequent alleged perjury trap of Flynn appear to show an effort by the outgoing Obama administration to frame the incoming Trump administration for wrongdoing.
"Unmasking" is the action taken by national security officials to reveal the identity of an American citizen who is picked up in surveillance of foreign officials. While it's true that "unmasking" is not an uncommon process, the compounding evidence surrounding the incident is what has drawn the attention of Trump supporters as well as Republicans in Congress.
Such compounding evidence includes the extremely long list of ex-Obama officials who requested the unmasking of Gen. Flynn — a list that includes former Vice President Joe Biden, former FBI Director James Comey, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
Furthermore, it's odd that Obama officials were concerned about Flynn talking to Kislyak, since in early 2017, the State Department announced that it would help incoming Trump officials make contact with foreign officials.