April 30, 2017

Obama aide denies using intel to spy on Trump advisers

06 April 2017, 02:44 | Sue Hudson

Nunes later clarified that "for the most part" the names were not revealed, but "it was pretty clear who they were talking about", he told CNN in late March.

That prospect arose after news reports that Rice sought the identities of persons close to Donald Trump whose communications were captured in surveillance of foreigners by US spy agencies. As a result, the names of Trump associates in the Russian phone calls were "masked" in the transcript.

After the revelations these last couple of days about the "incidental" unmaskings, Rice made another television appearance, this time in an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the House intelligence committee investigation looking into Russia's role in the 2016 election was back on track after the committee's chairman had a secret meeting on White House grounds about intelligence that Trump later said vindicated his Obama wiretapping claims.

Here's what we can say about the Rice situation at this point. The request must be made to the source of the intel report, which is usually the CIA, FBI or NSA. It includes NPR's national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly, White House correspondent Tamara Keith and political editor Domenico Montanaro. "Understand, over eight years, for me and others who served, it was not uncommon-in fact, it was necessary at times-to make those requests to find out the identities of USA officials". He replied, in an email, "Absolutely lawful". However, these names are supposed to be masked - meaning the name or names are redacted from any reports - whether it is global or domestic collection, unless there is an issue of national security, a crime or if their security is threatened in any way.

"There is an established process to ask for senior national security officials to ask for the identity of USA persons in these reports". She did not deny making any unmasking requests, which she claimed would not be unusual in and of themselves.

Rice thickens the Trump spy plot
But there are some likely explanations for why Rice would have been briefed on intelligence involving the incoming administration. That comes back to me, not to anybody broadly in the national security world, and that is necessary for me to do my job.

"To summarize", Hayden wrote in his email, "on its face, not even close to a smoking gun". She called the unmasking process routine and said she only did it when it pertained to matters of national security. In Tuesday's Washington Post, Glenn Kessler quotes Michael Doran, a former NSC aide under President George W. Bush, as saying, "I did it a couple of times".

"I have asked the Intelligence Committee, Sen. You have to have a reason beyond simple curiosity that is tied to some legitimate national-security or law-enforcement goal". Senior intelligence agency officials then decide whether that information can be provided without violating the legal guidelines.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said that if Trump is going to accuse Rice of a crime, he should make the intelligence public.

Rice is not, not yet, speaking under oath, so perhaps it doesn't really matter what she says.

Rice did not detail which Trump officials she unmasked or why, but current and former US officials have told ABC News it happened on a number of occasions. The Journal allowed, "The surveillance was legally authorized".

On Tuesday, Rice defended herself in the MSNBC interview, saying that her job as national security adviser involved seeking out information on USA surveillance efforts. They present the claim that Trump was spied on as a false story even though we have 100% proof that Trump people were listened to and that the information was leaked to the press.

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