Pence on Rice's 'unmasking' requests: Americans 'have a right to know'

Posted April 18, 2017

President Donald Trump one month and one day ago accused former President Barack Obama of committing a felony, wiretapping him in Trump Tower.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday while discussing the unmasking of Trump associates that former top Obama administration official Susan Rice may have committed a crime.

Susan Rice's interview Tuesday added more smoke. "It starts to look a whole lot less incidental if you're doing the same thing again and again with respect to the same people or group of people", McCarthy said.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer cast Rice's handling of intelligence in the waning days of Obama's term as suspicious, although he did not detail what he found to be inappropriate.

While finding the actual leakers of the classified information is important, McCarthy said there ought to be higher priorities. Rice confirmed that she requested the demasking of Americans while she was National Security Adviser. Further she said that she may have inquired about some names of citizens whose identities were changed in the intelligence briefings.

Rice reportedly asked to unmask the identities of people affiliated with the Trump campaign and transition "on dozens of occasions", according to the Bloomberg report.

The White House has tried to use the allegations of politically-motivated spying to shift focus away from the FBI and congressional investigations into possible Trump campaign ties to Russian Federation. Flynn was sacked after it became clear that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about the content of those discussions. Rice later clarified she was saying she didn't know what reports Nunes was referring to and said "I still do not".

These intelligence reports became the subject of controversy after reports surfaced that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice "unmasked" United States citizens who were swept up in the incidental surveillance. That information would be classified, she insisted. Privacy advocates have raised concerns that the new rules - which are yet to be fully implemented - would lead to the information being shared too broadly. It's the policy. When anyone's name appears unless there's an intelligence value to it, the name has to be blacked out and masked.

After viewing the findings, the White House counsel's office told the NSC to stop the review and not conduct an independent investigation into whether there was improper handling of intelligence.

"It is hard to fathom how the de-masking of multiple Trump campaign and transition officials was not politically motivated".

The House Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, praised Nunes' recusal.

Nunes learned about these practices from officials in the Trump administration, and then announced them, and then publicly visited the White House because, he said, he needed to brief Trump about them.

The National Security Agency, which conducts global eavesdropping for the US government, intercepts phone calls, email or other communications of suspected terrorists or foreign agents. The US's intelligence agencies (eg the CIA) "produce" the intelligence and they decide if any Americans incidentally "captured" during the surveillance of foreigners should be "unmasked".