The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence served seven subpoenas on Wednesday connected to its ongoing probe of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Buried among the summons are three writs related to allegations Obama administration officials “unmasked” Trump aides during the transition period between November 2016 and January.
“Unmasking” occurs when Americans are incidentally captured during intelligence gathering operations have their identities exposed by intelligence officials. Democrats on the House committee opposed the subpoenaing of former White House aides.
Under current U.S. law, the names of individuals incidentally captured typically remain confidential unless a request is lodged by approved government officials. Few have the authority to request; only a small number of government officials have the authority to approve such a request.
Although four subpoenas issued target former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and President Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, three others effect Obama administration officials: Former CIA Director John Brennan, former U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and former NSA adviser Susan Rice.
Commenting after the issuance of subpoenas, committee chair Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a joint statement:
“We hope and expect that anyone called to testify or provide documents will comply with that request, so that we may gain all the information within the scope of our investigation. We will continue to pursue this investigation wherever the facts may lead.”
One day following the delivery of the summons, President Trump tweeted his view the “unmasking” is a bigger story than allegations his campaign collaborated with the Russian Federation to vanquish election foe Hillary Clinton.
The big story is the “unmasking and surveillance” of people that took place during the Obama Administration.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2017
The notion the Obama administration “unmasked” Trump transition officials originated earlier this year when committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), addressed the media after a meeting with White House officials stating he had seen evidence of efforts by Obama officials to “unmask” Trump aides.
[RT America] [Wall Street Journal] [Photo courtesy Reuters via Breitbart]