Monday on “Anderson Cooper 360,” CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto called a report that former National Security Advisor Susan Rice was behind the unmasking of identities of members of the Trump transition team in surveillance of foreign officials to be a distraction from a larger investigation of the Trump administration.
According to what Sciutto described as a “source,” those allegations aimed at Rice were false, which is what Sciutto based his claim of this being a distraction.
Partial transcript as follows:
Well, just a short time ago, I spoke with someone close to Ambassador Rice, and this is the first comments from someone close to Rice today on these allegations. I’ll read it in quotes.
“The idea that Ambassador Rice improperly sought the identities of Americans is false. There is nothing unusual about making these requests when serving as a senior national security official, whether Democrat or Republican.” That coming from someone who works for Ambassador Rice.
But let’s go beyond that, because I spoke today with senior — former senior U.S. intelligence officials, the senior most who served both Republican and Democratic administrations, and this is what they have told me about this story.
They said, “One, this is not unusual. This happens. When you are briefed on intelligence communications like this, sometimes senior national security officials can ask the intelligence community to identify the Americans either mentioned in those conversations or on the other side of those phone calls. It’s not up to that senior U.S. national security official to make that decision, it’s then up to the intelligence agencies, the NSA, they decide what’s appropriate to then unmask for that senior official. It is legal. There are protocols that have been put in place since 9/11 to allow this to happen.”
And I’m told, this very meticulously logged, someone said to me, described it, it’s like Catholic baptismal records. It’s so well- logged. You can’t do this in secret and you have to do it without the approval of the intelligence community.
And, finally, Anderson, I would just say, why would someone do this? Every day, they’re getting briefings on intelligence. Their briefer chooses what they are briefed on, including Ambassador Rice, in those briefings, an official such as Rice might say, to further understand it, I would like to know who those names are. And that’s why they would make that request, which then as I said would have to be approved by the intelligence community.
That’s what I’m told. And 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.
But I will say, Anderson, you’re aware of this, the investigations continue, but particularly on the House side, there are now questions coming from both Democrats and Republicans about how bipartisan this investigation can be.
(h/t Daily Caller)
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor