Susan Rice may have committed a crime, Trump says without providing evidence

Rice, a former national security adviser under 44th President Barack Obama, may be guilty of illegally investigating the identities of people who were both connected to Donald Trump and were the subjects of USA surveillance, according to President Trump.

Asked by the New York Times if Rice committed a crime, Trump said, "Do I think?"

Rice has denied any wrongdoing, saying in an interview with MSNBC the allegations that somehow Obama administration officials "utilised intelligence for political purposes are absolutely false".

Rice became the subject of ire from Trump allies earlier this week after media reports said the former Obama official requested the identities of transition team members be unmasked in reports about surveillance of foreign targets.

By way of explanation, Rice told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that unmasking is a tool to help consumers of intelligence - which is what she was as national-security adviser - to understand the context of overheard discussions.

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On April 2, "alt-right" leader Mike Cernovich originally wrote that the White House Counsel's office had "identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking [of Trump transition officials incidentally captured in legal surveillance] after examining Rice's document log requests".

Questioned by reporters, Rice dodged the question. And in doing so, Trump mused on Wednesday, she might have committed a crime.

In an interview on Tuesday, Rice denied the allegations.

"I think he shouldn't have settled; personally I think he shouldn't have settled", said Mr. Trump. Nunes has since said he was unsure whether associates of Trump participated in the intercepted communications or whether those persons were simply mentioned or referred to by others. Schiff said the issue is a diversion from the question of whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russian Federation in its election interference.

President Trump on Wednesday claimed that he believes Rice may have committed a crime by requesting the identities of Trump associates who were mentioned in USA surveillance, though he did not provide proof.

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Those reports, which Nunes revealed in a news conference and were the foundation for a briefing he provided to the president, were uncovered by National Security Council officials working in the White House who, The Washington Post reported, secretly passed them on to Nunes.

Rice has said that the pace of intelligence reports on Russian meddling increased beginning in the summer of 2016.

Rice isn't the only Obama official implicated in the Trump team surveillance scandal.

"Our requests are simply not being answered", said one House Intelligence committee source about the lack of responsiveness. She called the unmasking process routine and said she only did it when it pertained to matters of national security. And in the Senate, both Warner and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina said they thought it was appropriate.

But when the dust settled, Republicans did reach ground on which they feel comfortable standing: Trump and his aides apparently were swept up in legal US surveillance of foreign targets during the transition.

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