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Devin Nunes drops a bombshell about 'unmasking' under Obama

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) expanded on accusations that he had made against former members of the Obama administration allegedly "unmasking" U.S. citizens improperly. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said in a letter to Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence, that there were "hundreds" of "unmasking" requests under the Obama administration and that many were made under suspicious circumstances.

Nunes said in the letter that it was possible the access to NSA information could have been used improperly for political purposes.

“We have found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes," he said, "including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information.

“[T]his Committee has learned that one official, whose position has no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration,” he continued.

Nunes claimed several of the requests appeared to be lacking in justification for the information sought. He noted that some requests were followed upon by leaks to the media, implying Obama administration officials were the sources of those leaks.

The congressman also connected these unmasking requests to the Trump transition team.

“Obama-era officials sought the identities of Trump transition officials within intelligence reports," he wrote. "However, there was no meaningful explanation offered by these officials as to why they needed or how they would use this U.S. person information."

Nunes recused himself in April from the Russian investigations into election meddling and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign, citing false allegations filed by left-wing groups against him.

“Several left-wing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics,” Nunes said in April. “The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power.

Members of Congress told CNN in April that many of the conclusions Nunes was drawing from the information available was misleading.

“One congressional source tells me that ‘there’s absolutely no smoking gun’ in these reports as Devin Nunes has suggested,” CNN's Manu Raju said, “and in fact, this person is saying that the White House should declassify these reports to make it clear that there is nothing alarming in that."

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