What you need to know about Susan Rice and the unmasking controversy

Miranda GreerApr 14, 2017

Now it's all there: The plot and the villain and the quest for a predicate to drive the story forward. As the national security adviser, Rice would have been authorized to seek identities of people whose names were redacted from intelligence reports.

If Rice or someone else in the Obama administration did request the unmasking of Trump associates, would it be a crime?

Then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice did at times ask that certain names in intelligence reports be "unmasked" in order to understand the context in which they were mentioned in intelligence reports, a former national security official told CBS News. "It is one of the big stories of our time". To many observers, Nunes' effort backfired because it simply provided more evidence of contact between the Trump team and Russian officials who tried to influence the US election.

Also factor in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes's disclosure in a March 22 press conference that the names of Trump campaign or transition officials were demasked from NSA reports that had nothing to do with Russian Federation or alleged wrongdoing by the Trump campaign. Lindsey Graham, a Rice enemy of many years. Plus, the process is subject to stringent rules and must be reviewed by lawyers.

"I have asked the Intelligence Committee, Sen". That is, it's a distraction from the effort to find out whether the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign adversary that was bent on surreptitiously impacting the USA election. In reality, there is no indication Obama ever did any such thing.

Big stuff, right? The President of the United States accusing the top national security adviser in his predecessor's administration of breaking the law! The identities of at least some Trump associates were unmasked, in part at Susan Rice's request or direction. "I leaked nothing to nobody", she said. It might very well have been President Obama, Susan Rice and other members of the Obama administration who were actually doing the meddling to try to defeat Trump.

In a New York Times interview published Wednesday afternoon, Trump again accused someone of a crime, citing zero evidence. USA intelligence agencies routinely do legal surveillance of foreign nationals thanks to a section of law in the "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act", generally referred to as FISA.

There are loopholes and ways to unmask the names through back-channels, but Americans are supposed to be protected from incidental collection.

That's not wiretapping, but it's good enough for government work - and it has uncovered a rich vein for Republicans to mine as they respond to the Russia-meddling storyline.

It is important for Rice to be called in as a witness before the House and Senate intelligence committee hearings, King said. These reports about Ms. Rice also shed new light on how far, or how low, Democratic operatives were willing to go to beat Mr. Trump last November.

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