Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice just refused to deny the allegation that she unmasked members of the Trump transition team in the months leading up to the Trump’s inauguration last January.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday afternoon, Rice admitted that she did request the identities of U.S. persons who were being surveilled. And rather than deny that she requested the unmasking of private citizens who were not the targets of a FISA-warranted investigation, such as Trump, his family, and his transition team, Rice instead claimed that she did not unmask anyone for “political purposes”:
Rice’s admission that she requested unmasking in raw intelligence reports is interesting, given that just two weeks ago Rice vehemently denied allegations lodged by Rep. Devin Nunes that the intelligence community may have been monitoring the Trump team between Election Day and Inauguration Day and then unmasking their identities.
But after claiming on PBS last month that she knew nothing about any unmasking, Rice radically changed changed her tune during Tuesday’s MSNBC interview.
“I know nothing about this,” Rice told PBS. “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”
On Tuesday, Mitchell asked Rice if she had ever unmasked the identities of Tump transition members “to spy on them and expose them.”
“Absolutely not for any political purposes,” Rice said in a heavily caveated response.
She went on to explain that while an individual within the intelligence community could ask for a person’s identity, their names typically would not be spread. She did not say whether or not the broad dissemination of names after they had been unmasked in an intelligence report occurred.
“There’s no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking,” she said, apparently implying that while any alleged unmasking was proper, any leaking of the information would not be. “The effort to ask for the identify of an American citizen is necessary to understand the intelligence report in some instances.”
She did not explain why the information would have been masked by intelligence agencies in the first place if it were deemed by them to have any intelligence value.
Rice also said the pace of surveillance of members of the Trump transition team was “accelerated” after the election.
“Yes, there was a pace of reporting that accelerated as the intelligence community got more and more information on that [Russia’s influence on the election] and shared it with U.S. officials,” Rice said.
Later in the interview, Rice refused to commit to testifying under oath about her role in unmasking the identities of Trump transition team members who were surveilled by the Obama administration.
Susan Rice became a household political name when she claimed without basis that the premeditated terrorist attack in Benghazi which killed a U.S. ambassador, two retired NAVY Seals, and a State Department IT employee, was caused by a YouTube video. Rice also claimed that Bowe Bergdahl, an Army deserter who is awaiting military court-martial charges of desertion and misbehavior, served with “honor and distinction.