Former national security adviser Susan Rice on Tuesday issued a firm denial that the Obama administration inappropriately surveilled President Trump or members of his transition team.
Rice alleged to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that “[t]he allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes. That’s absolutely false.”
According to a Monday report by Bloomberg, Rice had requested that at least one member of the Trump transition team be “unmasked.”
“It was not uncommon,” Rice said. “It was necessary at times to make those requests. I don’t have a particular recollection of doing that more frequently after the election.”
“The notion, which some people are trying to suggest, that by asking for the identity of the American person is the same as leaking it … that’s completely false,” Rice claimed. “There is no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking.”
Rice also denied responsibility for exposing the contents of a discussion between former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February, and the Russian ambassador.
“I leaked nothing to nobody,” she said.
However, Rice has been identified as the leaker by two anonymous U.S. officials interviewed by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake. The raw intelligence files in question have since been viewed by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the heads of the House Intelligence Committee.
Intelligence experts assert that the reports do not necessarily mean that Obama or Rice had Trump associates surveilled, but President Trump immediately called on the media to “start talking about the Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL.”
If there is a compelling national security reason to request the unmasking of names in intelligence reports, the national security adviser is authorized to do so.
“I don’t solicit reports,” Rice said Tuesday. “They’re giving it to me. If I read it, and I think that in order for me to understand — is it significant or not so significant — I need to know who the ‘U.S. person’ is … I can make that request.”
Rice contended that nothing in the Bloomberg report supports Trump’s claim that former President Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower.
“There was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals, it is important to understand, directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,” Rice said.
Republicans have insisted that Rice testifies under oath. When asked by Mitchell if she would, Rice replied, “Let’s see what comes. I’m not going to sit here and prejudge.”
Referencing the “very important and very serious” investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Rice said, “As a former U.S. official, I would want to be helpful in that process if I could.”
Donald Trump Jr. weighed in on Rice’s interview via Twitter, contending that Rice “[s]hould have gone to CNN that way she would get the Qs in advance… who am I kidding they were never going to ask a real question?”
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 4, 2017
H/T: The Hill
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