Susan Rice denies spying on Trump team, defends 'unmasking' requests

Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. discusses the American Health Care Act before a TV interview on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Wednesday

Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. discusses the American Health Care Act before a TV interview on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Wednesday

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice has been named by multiple sources as the Obama administation official who "unmasked" Trump campaign or transition team officials who were caught up in surveillance of other targets. "The allegation is that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes". There is no evidence that backs up the president's original claim. She said part of her job working for President Barack Obama was reviewing intelligence reports and the unmasking of names was done when necessary to better understand their significance.

The White House said Tuesday that it was "interesting" that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice previously said she had nothing to do with the unmasking of us citizens on the Trump team "and now you see more and more of her quotes".

"I leaked nothing to nobody and never have and never would", she said.

"I know nothing about this".

But it is "often not possible for a consumer or reader to fully understand the significance of a report without knowing precisely which USA person may have been communicating with the foreign official", he added.

Prior to the rules change, only a select number of individuals were allowed to access this information including the National Security Adviser, the post which Rice formerly held. The identities of Americans who talk with those foreigners, or who are discussed in conversations between two non-U.S. persons, are hidden in intelligence reports.

Susan Rice refused to deny allegations that she unmasked members of the Trump transition team in the months leading up to Trump's inauguration.

If proof exists that Rice went beyond unmasking and was responsible for the leaking of Trump transition official Michael Flynn's conversations with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak - and there is no proof of that to this point - then it absolutely warrants closer scrutiny.

But Rice's multiple requests to learn the identities of Trump officials discussed in intelligence reports during the transition period does highlight a longstanding concern for civil liberties advocates about US surveillance programs.

After initially defending this claim, the White House and Trump's congressional GOP supporters have backed away from it and have claimed instead that Trump officials were accidentally recorded. Though in March, after House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes revealed that Trump and his associates may have, in passing, been included in surveillance reports, Rice responded that she had no knowledge of it and "was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today".

The question to ponder on is why was former national security advisor Susan Rice involved in unmasking? She said she only used classified information for national-security purposes.

There are ways to unmask those American citizens, usually only for national security reasons.

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