by WorldTribune Staff, April 2, 2017
A very senionr official in the intelligence community is responsible for “unmasking” associates of President Donald Trump, according to a March 31 report.
Several sources said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, knows who is responsible for the disclosure of classified names, Fox News reported.
The official is “very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world,” a source said.
“Wow, @FoxNews just reporting big news. Source: ‘Official behind unmasking is high up. Known Intel official is responsible. Some unmasked not associated with Russia. Trump team spied on before he was nominated. If this is true, does not get much bigger. Would be sad for U.S.,” Trump tweeted.
Intelligence analysts said it is extremely rare for a private citizen to be “unmasked,” or named, in an intelligence report. Typically, they say, it occurs when an American is a suspect in a crime, is in danger or has to be named to explain the context of the report.
“The main issue in this case, is not only the unmasking of these names of private citizens, but the spreading of these names for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security or an investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election,” a congressional source close to the investigation told Fox News.
The report said Nunes has known about the unmasking controversy since January, long before Trump tweeted on March 4 that then-President Barack Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower during the 2016 election.
After initially being stonewalled, Nunes was able to view the intelligence reports in question at the only safe place to see the documents without compromising the sources’ identities, the old executive office building on White House grounds, which has a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) required to view classified or top secret reports. The White House did not tell Nunes about the existence of the intelligence reports, but did help him gain access to the documents at his request, a source told Fox News.
The White House has also been emboldened by the resurfacing of March 2 comments from former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas, who on MSNBC suggested her former colleagues tried to gather material on Trump associates’ contacts with Russia.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the comments by Farkas and other reports raise “serious” concerns about whether there was an “organized and widespread effort by the Obama administration to use and leak highly sensitive intelligence information for political purposes.”
“Dr. Farkas’ admissions alone are devastating,” he said.
Farkas defended herself on Twitter, saying she didn’t personally “give anybody anything except advice” on Russia information and wanted Congress to ask for facts.
Citizens affiliated with Trump’s team who were unmasked were not associated with any intelligence about Russia or other foreign intelligence, sources confirmed. The initial unmasking led to other surveillance, which led to other private citizens being wrongly unmasked, sources said.
“Unmasking is not unprecedented, but unmasking for political purposes … specifically of Trump transition team members … is highly suspect and questionable,” an intelligence source told Fox News. “Opposition by some in the intelligence agencies who were very connected to the Obama and Clinton teams was strong. After Trump was elected, they decided they were going to ruin his presidency by picking them off one by one.”