05 April, 2017
"That is absolutely false".
According to a US official, Rice asked spy agencies to give her the names of Trump associates who surfaced in intelligence reports she was regularly briefed on.
Again, even if you believe that Rice did something that was wrong - and her unusual decision to kind of, sort of, deny that she knew anything about the unmasking will add fuel to that fire - it is still not proof, or anything close to proof, that Obama ordered Trump to be wiretapped. Her successor, Mike Flynn, resigned in February after media reports revealed that he misled the vice-president about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.
My guess is that Rice's demasking requests were on behalf of the Obama National Security Council and were part of a broad campaign that began in early 2016 to abuse US intelligence to hurt the Trump candidacy and then his presidency.
As Republicans sought to steer public attention to unproven claims that Barack Obama's administration spied on Trump, Rice said that her final months in the White House were focused on Russia's interference in the election that brought Trump to power. As national security adviser, she said it would be important to know whether it was a "kook" who doesn't actually have the equipment versus a serious person or company or entity with the ability to provide that technology.
Our source did confirm that Ms. Rice also examined dozens of other intelligence summaries that technically masked Trump official identities but were written in such a way as to make obvious who those officials were. It was not then typically broadly disseminated throughout the national security community or the government.
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"From her perspective she didn't know what specific unmasking Devin Nunes and others are talking about, in part because that is something she asks - or asked during the regular course of her work as national security adviser", he said. Republican investigators in Congress certainly are unlikely to let the matter end there, however. Rice's requests were documented in executive branch records, as are all requests made for unmasking.
The Obama administration hasn't denied that Rice requested the unmasking of identities in an intelligence report that came from eavesdropping on foreign parties.
Schiff explained that when the U.S. is "doing lawful surveillance for the goal of gathering foreign intelligence" and a surveillance target mentions a United States citizen or business, that can constitute "incidental collection".
"If [unmasking] is allowed, we shouldn't be allowing it, but I don't think [we] should just discount how big a deal it is that Susan Rice was looking at these", Paul said to reporters on Monday.
Both the House and Senate intelligence committees, along with the FBI, are investigating the reports of Russian interference and possible collusion. The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions.
'Masking and unmasking in this context are the set of rules governing how agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation or NSA will treat the information of a USA citizen if they come across said citizen in the course of surveilling a foreign adversary, and only a foreign adversary.
Later, Mitchell asked Rice about Trump's wild allegation that President Obama had secretly wiretapped him in Trump Tower.