RE THE UPDATES: I have three updates below, and I've also updated the title with a "?"
I'm quoting The Hill's summary of an article in the WaPo. The Hill's account can be found here:
I take that to mean that then USA John Bash--recently resigned--who led the investigation simply concluded that no criminal violation could be proved. That understanding is reflected in the WaPo title:
"Without charges" seems to be the operative conclusion. The phrase "without finding any substantive wrongdoing" appears in the first paragraph of the WaPo article, but is not a quote:
The federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General William P. Barr to review whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals whose names were redacted in intelligence documents has completed his work without finding any substantive wrongdoing, according to people familiar with the matter.
In the last paragraph the WaPo states that it was "unable to review the full results of what Bash found." In between the first and last paragraphs you can read paragraph after paragraph of political speculation that doesn't bear repeating here. But there's no further substantive information.
Therefore, the bottom line as we know it is that there will be no criminal charges arising from the unmaskings. That doesn't mean that regulations and guidelines weren't violated, but since those involved are no longer with the government they will suffer no disciplinary action.
UPDATE 1: In support of commenters EZ and Anonymous, I would point out that it would have been easy enough for Durham to have determined that there were no actual crimes committed--without pulling a USA from a large district back to DC to make that determination. That raises the question: What possible crimes did Barr and Durham think they might find? After all--they needed some predication to begin the investigation in the first place.
A likely supposition would be that the unmasking investigation was part of the leak investigations. The unmaskings may not have been criminal in and of themselves if the unmasked information didn't go beyond persons with the requisite clearance--which everyone we've looked at in the Russia Hoax would have had. But, since the unmasked information was contained in classified documents any leaks to persons without clearances would be crimes.
The question then is, Do the unmaskings and leaks really play no part in the Durham investigation and are being totally dropped, or will they come up later as part of a bigger conspiracy?
UPDATE 2: Commenter Anonymous points out that a week ago it was reported by the NYPost that Bash's replacement in San Antonio, Acting USA Gregg Sofer, would be handling "any matters that John Bash was overseeing" for Barr and Durham: Acting US Attorney Gregg Sofer will pick up ‘unmasking’ probe: report.
My understanding is that Bash had already informed Barr that he'd be stepping down. Still, if his part of the unmasking investigation was going to be completed within a week, one would have thought he'd stick around for just one more week.
More importantly, the NYPost article specifically states that Bash was looking into the leaks with regard to Michael Flynn, and that Sofer will also be looking into that--which makes sense in line with my suppositions, above:
Acting US Attorney Gregg Sofer will take up the investigation into the “unmasking” of former national security adviser Michael Flynn after Sofer’s predecessor resigned from the Justice Department, according to a report Tuesday.
Barr named Bash in May to look into the process that led to Flynn’s name being revealed after a conversation between him and former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak was picked up by the intelligence community.
The characterization of the investigation clearly describes a leak investigation. The revelation of Flynn's name came as a result of a leak to the WaPo. Any unmasking of Flynn's name would have been an internal government matter, separate from--albeit related to--the actual leak.
It makes no sense to me to suppose that Bash or anyone else found no "substantive wrongdoing" in leaking a transcript of a top secret "tech cut" to the WaPo. That's clearly a criminal violation. This doesn't appear to be adding up right now. Perhaps there will be some clarification.
UPDATE 3: Commenter Bebe points to the Fox account of the appointment of Sofer, a week ago. Kerri Kupec is saying basically what I wrote last night--"unmasking" is unlikely, in and of itself, to result in criminal charges. However, it can be important in revealing motives. For example, non-criminal acts, when motivated for certain ends, may help to prove the intent behind a criminal conspiracy. As I also wrote, we find paragraph after paragraph of highly tendetious political speculation in the stories, sandwiched between one basically unsourced tidbit and an admission that the authors haven't seen any documentation:
The Justice Department also, at the time, revealed that U.S. Attorney John Durham from Connecticut, who is reviewing the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, was also investigating the so-called unmasking of Trump campaign associates as part of his broader review. That line of investigation was confirmed after Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., made public a list of Obama officials who purportedly requested to “unmask” the identity of Michael Flynn, who at the time was Trump’s incoming national security adviser.
"Unmasking inherently isn't wrong, but certainly, the frequency, the motivation and the reasoning behind unmasking can be problematic, and when you're looking at unmasking as part of a broader investigation -- like John Durham's investigation -- looking specifically at who was unmasking whom, can add a lot to our understanding about motivation and big-picture events," Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said in May after Bash was tapped to take on the task.
What could have changed so drastically in one week to make Kupec's statement inoperative? Nothing, I would say. I think our skeptical commenters, Cassander and others, have the right approach.