Sunday, 27 May, 2018

Trump suggests Susan Rice might have committed crime

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Ellis Copeland | 08 April, 2017, 01:29

President Trump says that President Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice may have committed a crime by unmasking names of Trump associates in USA intelligence reports collected by intelligence agencies.

Rice defended herself in an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday, saying she did nothing inappropriate in requesting the information for national security purposes and did not leak the names.

NBC News reported there was no way Rice could've "ordered" the unmasking of any citizen, as only the agencies that gathered the intelligence have the power to make such a call.

If an official reviewing the report wants to know the identity, the official can request that the agency that collected the information "unmask" the name.

Mr. Trump did not offer any evidence supporting his claim, while the current and former intelligence officials from the Democratic and Republican administrations have said they do not believe Ms. Rice's actions were unlawful. And in doing so, Trump mused on Wednesday, she might have committed a crime.

"I think it's going to be the biggest story", Trump said. "It's a bigger story than you know", he added, promising more information would come but offering no details.

She would not say whether she asked for names to be unmasked, or whether she sought intelligence reports on Trump's associates.

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"Incidentally", eh? That is, the spooks were looking for something else and the names of people associated with Donald Trump's campaign or transition just happened to be mentioned along the way, en passant.

"I think he shouldn't have settled; personally I think he shouldn't have settled", Trump told the Times in an Oval Office interview.

To Trump backers, the so-called "unmasking" is evidence that the Obama administration was surveilling the incoming administration for political purposes. Usually, the identities of US citizens who are included in foreign surveillance reports are kept hidden, or masked. "I never have and never will".

Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Tuesday that he could be interested in interviewing Rice as well.

The latest so-called smoking gun - where, in fact, a federal official appeared to follow federal rule to assess information in intelligence documents in pursuit of her job - is a far cry from Trump's earlier claim that Obama went so "low" as to "tap" the phones at his home. The law requires that identities of USA persons picked up or mentioned during the course of foreign surveillance be masked; that is, that they be shielded from people reading the reports.

On Thursday, Nunes announced he had been the subject of accusations to the House Ethics Committee related to the White House episode, ones he called baseless.

It is not illegal to improperly unmask an American's name. But rather than attempt to fight them and carry on with the Russian Federation investigation, Nunes said he would recuse himself from that process while staying on as chairman of the full committee. Nunes has said he will not step down from his position as chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

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