CNN reported Wednesday that multiple sources confirmed to them Susan Rice admitted to a congressional committee why she ‘unmasked’ several Trump officials.
They say the former Obama national security adviser told members of Congress that she did so to ascertain the reason why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York.
What is ‘unmasking’?
Unmasking is the operation of uncovering the names of U.S. persons that have been obscured in transmissions captured by our intelligence services. They are obscured because it is illegal for such information to be captured without a warrant. They are captured “incidentally” while intelligence services investigate transmissions to or from foreign parties.
Why is the unmasking controversial?
Many on the right believe that Susan Rice committed the operations for the sake of political advantage at the order of former President Barack Obama. This would be a terrible abuse of power, and would almost certainly precipitate criminal charges.
How did this scandal start?
President Trump posted a message on his Twitter account accusing Obama of “wire tapping” Trump Towers during the election. As the investigation into this claim continued, the accusations morphed into questions over “unmasking” of Trump campaign officials from incidental transmission collection.
What does this new information mean?
According to CNN, Rice told Congress she unmasked Trump officials from transmissions in order to discover why Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan came to New York during the transition period. If true, this report would bolster her claim that she had reasonable motivation for unmasking Trump officials.
The report is corroborated, as CNN points out, by statements made by members of Congress who interviewed Rice privately. “I didn’t hear anything to believe that she did anything illegal,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.).