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05 April 2017, 01:59 | Violet Powell
Former President Barack Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice ordered U.S. spy agencies to produce "detailed spreadsheets" of legal phone calls involving Donald Trump and his aides when he was running for president, according to former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova.
The Washington Postreports that major Trump donor and Blackwater founder Erik Prince met with a Vladimir Putin confidant during the presidential... "Absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, to expose, for anything".
The White House - which has access to the intelligence that allegedly shows Rice was behind the unmasking - was playing coy.
"I leaked nothing to nobody and never have and never would", she said.
Since news broke Monday that the Obama Administration's National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, directed the "unmasking" of NSA intercepts of Trump associates, CNN has raced to shoot down the blockbuster report.
"And sometimes, in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request the information as to find out who that USA official was", Rice said.
"There was a pace of reporting that accelerated as the intelligence community got more and more information on that". While it was legal for her to do this, it was highly unethical and would be a huge scandal if a Republican senior official sought the names of Democratic political opponents from US intelligence reports.
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The bar is high too because there has to be a legitimate intelligence reason to justify identifying the person or persons. The former White House official said she didn't have the authority to directly unmask any identities in those reports.
If, on the other hand, Ms Rice widely disseminated information about United States citizens or leaked it to the press, as some Republican critics allege and she adamantly denies, then the picture grows much darker. "The notion that some people are trying to suggest, is that by asking for the identity of a person is leaking it, is unequivocally false". "There's no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking".
Trump first levied the charge on Twitter one month ago, claiming that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. "That is absolutely false". Specifically, this provision outlines several possible justifications upon which the government can rely to claim the unmasking was necessary, such as if the information indicates the USA person is an agent of a foreign power, is engaged in the unauthorized disclosure of classified information, may be involved in a crime, or may be the target of hostile intelligence activities of a foreign power. Even Nunes, who has emerged as a defender of the president's concerns about having been improperly surveilled, has publicly stated on more than one occasion that the targeted surveillance and the incidental collection appear to have been legally conducted.
In January, the Justice Department and intelligence officials agreed on new rules giving more USA agencies access to raw information picked up overseas by the National Security Agency.
That Susan Rice authorized this before and after the election leads to question of motive, and that motive could easily be to harm the Trump campaign and then later, undermine the Trump presidency.
She was promoted in 1995 to become special assistant to Clinton and senior director of African affairs at the White House National Security Council.
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