WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2017 – Bloomberg View reporter Eli Lake is reporting that former national security advisor Susan Rice specifically requested the unmasking of Trump administration transition officials dozens of times, according to US officials familiar with the matter.
The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy of “unmasking” U.S. citizens caught up in incidental electronic intelligence intercepts.
The National Security Council’s senior director of intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities.
One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition team such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.
What the reports specifically did not include was any mention of Russia, Russian intervention in the 2016 elections, communications with Russian officials or agents, or any collusion between Trump campaign or transition officials and the Russian government.
Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment this morning. Last month when she was asked about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection on the “PBS NewsHour”, Rice said, ”I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nines on that account today”.
That statement would now appear to be a complete falsehood, similar to her contention that the Benghazi attacks were the result of a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video.
Mike Cernovich of Cernovich Media reported that the White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests.
The intelligence reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly controlled conditions, and each person gaining access must log their name before being granted access to them.
Upon learning of Rice’s actions current National Security Council head H.R. McMaster dispatched his close aide Derek Harvey to Capitol Hill to brief Chairman Nunes.
Susan Rice was once described by Newsweek as President Obama’s “right-hand woman”, and the reports bring to mind immediate questions as to whether President Obama and his top aides including Valerie Jarrett and Rice’s deputy, Ben Rhodes were also involved.
It also calls attention to the widespread dissemination of the unmasked intelligence intercepts and who may have leaked them, as stated in a New York Times article on January 20th.
9 senior administration and intelligence officials were confirmed by the New York Times as being anonymous sources confirming the surveillance and the subsequent leaks of conversations involving Lt Gen. Michael Flynn, which was a felony.
The circle of those who could have leaked and met that description would include Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Asst. Attorney General Andrew McCabe, FBI Director James Comey, and CIA Director John Brennan.
Circa News originally reported that as his presidency drew to a close, Barack Obama’s top aides routinely reviewed intelligence reports gleaned from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad, taking advantage of rules their boss deliberately relaxed starting in 2011.
Those rules and the widespread dissemination of this intelligence was made easier by executive orders issued just weeks before his presidency ended.
Among those cleared to request and consume unmasked NSA based intelligence reports about U.S. citizens were Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice, his CIA director John Brennan, and the Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Cernovich Media also reports that Mike Cernovich’s sources tell him that New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman has had this story about Susan Rice for at least 48 hours, and has chosen to sit on it in an effort to protect the reputation of former President Obama.
Twitter has been having a field day with this story, quickly emerging as a trending topic, with scathing comments from the left and the right of the political spectrum about the blatant use of intelligence agencies and domestic surveillance against political opponents.