Obama aide denies using intel to spy on Trump advisers

The latest charge is that former national security adviser Susan Rice "unmasked" - intelligence parlance for asking for the identity of unnamed officials - Trump campaign officials, proof, the President's allies insist, that something nefarious was happening on the surveillance front during the final days of the Obama administration.

"The allegation is that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes", Rice told MSNBC, "that is absolutely false".

Bradley P. Moss is a partner at the Washington, D.C. Law Office of Mark S. Zaid, P.C., where he has represented countless individuals (including whistleblowers) serving within the intelligence community, and is also the deputy executive director of the James Madison Project, through which he has represented media outlets such as Politico, Gawker, Daily Caller, and the Daily Beast in FOIA lawsuits against the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations.

"I realize there has been lots of discussion and controversy around this", Rice said.

"Again, to note by senior intelligence officials who work for both Democrats and Republicans, this appears to be a story, largely ginned up, partly as a distraction from this larger investigation", Sciutto told Anderson Cooper, explaining that "someone close to Ambassador Rice" told him this type of unmasking is "not unusual". Even in her role as national security advisor, Rice lacked the authority to compel the unmasking of USA persons' identities in the NSA documentation she was apparently provided in the course of her official duties.

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Hewitt asked Cotton about a recent editorial from The Wall Street Journal which questioned why Rice requested the unmaskings, and claimed an anonymous source revealed that "Ms. Rice also examined dozens of other intelligence summaries that technically masked Trump official identities but were written in such a way as to make obvious who those officials were".

In mid-March, House intelligence committee chairman Devin Nunes abruptly announced he had seen "troubling" information about spy agencies widely spreading the identities of Trump associates.

But there is no evidence of that, NBC News reported, and Rice denied the allegation in her interview.

The bar is high too because there has to be a legitimate intelligence reason to justify identifying the person or persons.

However, with Susan Rice, we do have a "there", and it is very alarming that efforts were made to "unmask" the Trump team members without cause.

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If, on the other hand, Ms Rice widely disseminated information about USA citizens or leaked it to the press, as some Republican critics allege and she adamantly denies, then the picture grows much darker.

In 2008, she was national security and foreign relations adviser for Obama's first presidential campaign.

"Absolutely false", she answered. She conceded that that could have resulted in Trump officials' communications being picked up and read by United States intelligence. She said the White House isn't responsible for ordering that type of surveillance.

The new news reports come barely two weeks after Rice denied knowing anything about the intelligence reports.

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