A subplot to the scandal of Russian interference in the 2016 election was the discovery that Obama Administration officials had “unmasked” the identity of certain Trump campaign officials in intelligence reports. The unmasking was later traced to Susan Rice, who was President Obama’s national security advisor at the time. The unmasking constituted a potential crime.
CNN cites multiple sources who say that Rice told House investigators in a closed-door session that she requested the unmasking to try to determine why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates made a trip to New York during the transition period. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan met with several Trump transition officials including Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner while in the US. last December. The Obama Administration was not notified of the trip by the UAE as is customary for visits by foreign dignitaries.
“I didn’t hear anything to believe that she did anything illegal,” said Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fl.), a member of House panel investigating the Russian interference.
The term “unmasking” refers to the practice of revealing the identity of American citizens who appear in the incidental collection of surveillance data where the primary target of the surveillance is a foreign national. Intelligence officials can request that the identities of the US citizens be “unmasked” in certain circumstances.
Judicial Watch had previously requested National Security Council records relating to the unmasking, but was informed that they had been transferred to the Obama Presidential Library. “You should be aware that under the Presidential Records Act, Presidential records remain closed to the public for five years after an administration has left office,” the NSC response noted.
It is not clear whether the case is completely closed on Rice’s unmasking request, but her testimony goes a long way towards explaining the issue. There was also no indication of why the UAE did not disclose the visit by the crown prince to the Obama Administration.
Originally published on The Resurgent