In a stunning revelation certain to broaden an expected congressional inquiry into alleged efforts by Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, a former Obama administration official has been accused of exposing the identities of Trump transition officials incidentally captured during electronic surveillance operations of foreign officials.
According to reports, former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice is believed to have retrieved numerous NSA intercepts which contained intelligence material involving Trump associates.
It is alleged Rice deliberately sought out such material in an attempt to learn the identities of Trump officials who had contact with foreign officials during the presidential transition period.
It is also believed Rice began her inquiries in the summer of 2016 and continued to access intelligence material through the campaign up until Trump’s inauguration. Reports have also said Rice routinely requested the identities of Americans captured during standard intelligence gathering activities.
What security clearance Rice used to access the material or issued for the unmasking requests is not clear, nor is it known how precisely Rice used the information once she obtained it.
The material existed on White House computers discovered by Trump administration aides and was immediately brought to the attention of the White House General Counsel.
Heatedly denying using intelligence material for political purposes, Rice appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday, telling host Andrea Mitchell: “I leaked nothing to nobody.”
Rice later denied leaking former Trump NSA official Michael Flynn’s name and rejected press reports she maintained a spreadsheet containing numerous names of Trump officials incidentally captured by surveillance activity.
Now embroiled in controversy, Rice’s comments following Monday’s revelations contrast with her statements in late March when House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) alleged Obama White House officials had viewed intelligence reports which included information on Trump and his transition officials.
Asked by PBS host Judy Woodruff if reports implicating Obama White House officials in unmasking the identities of Trump officials in communications with foreigners were credible, Rice incredulously replied: “I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”
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