by WorldTribune Staff, September 20, 2017
Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice told a congressional committee last week that she asked intelligence agencies to unmask the names of three Trump advisers, according to news reports.
Rice had previously denied any role in politicizing intelligence information she had access to despite reports to the contrary.
In closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Rice said she asked for the unmasking of Mike Flynn, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner due to a secret meeting in December at Trump Tower between the Trump advisers and the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates.
CNN, citing sources familiar with the meeting, said Obama White House officials felt the UAE, by not divulging Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan’s trip to New York, could be breaking diplomatic protocol by not notifying Washington officials of a visit, sparking Rice’s inquiries.
A senior Capitol Hill source told Fox News that Rice gave “vast and varied” explanations for her actions during last week’s testimony.
Rice reportedly insisted any unmasking was done solely for legitimate security purposes and denied ever leaking any of the unmasked names.
President Donald Trump told Fox News on Sept. 14 that Rice is “not supposed to be [unmasking], and what she did was wrong … and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
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He added, “I heard she admitted [to unmasking] yesterday.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN she believes leaking and unmasking need further investigation.
“We’ve seen illegal leaking of classified materials, including the identities of American citizens unmasked in intelligence reports,” Sanders said. “That’s why the president called for Congress to investigate this matter and why the Department of Justice and Intelligence Community are doing all they can to stamp out this dangerous trend that undermines our national security.”
House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, told Fox News that accounts of Rice’s appearance before the committee were “not inconsistent with her testimony. Whether or not that’s true or not, I can’t tell you. But it’s consistent with what she said.”
Gowdy said Rice did a “good job” during the interview. Asked whether her answers were satisfactory, he said, “I have no reason to impeach them or contradict them.”
But he added, “There’s a whole body of documents that I need to know whether or not what she said is corroborated or contradicted. I don’t usually go just based on what someone said, particularly if there are documents that either refute it or corroborate it.”
Congressional investigators have issued subpoenas to the NSA, CIA and FBI seeking “unmasking” information related to Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.
Rice said that she “knew nothing” about the unmasking of Trump associates during a March interview with PBS’s Judy Woodruff. Weeks later, however, during an appearance on MSNBC, Rice admitted she sometimes sought out the identities of Trump associates who communicated with foreigners.
But “I leaked nothing to nobody,” Rice told MSNBC.