The Washington Post reported North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, should be called before his committee if she was involved in the unmasking of associates of President Donald Trump in intelligence reports.
The report also states:
“If the reports are right,” Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said on Tuesday, “then she will be of interest to us.”
Some Republican lawmakers have been clamoring for the Senate Intelligence Committee to force Rice to testify under oath after a reportfrom Bloomberg’s Eli Lake suggested Rice on dozens of occasions requested the identities of people connected to Trump be “unmasked.”
Rice has denied the allegations, calling them “absolutely false” in an MSNBC interview on Tuesday.
In fact, Rice told MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell that she did seek the identities of American citizens, whose names were cloaked or masked in intelligence reports because the federal government is not authorized to monitor Americans with a court order. The masking of names is the solution to constitutional concerns regarding the incidental or accidental collection of information about Americans.
Rice told Mitchell that she did not unmask names for political reasons:
“There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to, name not provided, just a U.S. person, and sometimes in that context in order to understand the importance of that report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or request the information as to who that U.S. official was,” she said, without going into specifics.
For example, she said, “if two foreigners were having a conversation” about a possible bombing with an American, they would want to know if that person “was some kook” or a legitimate threat.
NBC went so far as to state as a fact that there is no way Rice could have done anything wrong:
NBC has learned that Rice didn’t — and couldn’t — “order” the unmasking of any American because only the agencies that gathered the surveillance (usually the NSA or FBI) can make that call and the process is subject to rules and reviewed by lawyers.
The bar is high too because there has to be a legitimate intelligence reason to justify identifying the person or persons.