The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee told Breitbart News that he is very concerned about allegations that Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, abused her access to intelligence reports that included incidental collection of information about associates of President Donald Trump.
“First of all, I don’t know all there is to know about what Susan Rice was doing,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).
Rice is accused of “unmasking” the names of American citizens associated with Trump in intelligence reports. Those names are deliberately cloaked to preserve the constitutional protections against warrantless monitoring enshrined in the 4th Amendment.
“What we do know about Susan Rice is you can’t believe what she says, and that is pretty obvious, so we need to get her under oath,” he said.
“It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that the former administration would utilize the awesome power of the government–they did it with Lois Lerner and the IRS, using the IRS as a political weapon against their political opponents,” he said.
If the Obama administration was willing to use the IRS for political advantage, it is natural for them to use the federal surveillance programs, as well, he said.
“We need to get her under oath in front of the Intelligence Committee and let’s see exactly what we do find out about her,” he said.
Johnson said he is not worried that political abuse of surveillance and intelligence gathering programs would jeopardize the actual programs themselves. “In a responsible person’s hand, it should not be a problem. We do need the ability to gather intelligence. We need the ability to do these things.”
The senator said another problem is how intelligence related to Trump made its way into the press.
“We need to keep these pieces of information classified, as well,” he said. “There’s a reason you have classified information and national security interests–it is how you keep the nation safe.”
The senator said there is a difference between national security career professionals and the political appointees, such as Rice.
“The vast majority of people, career folks in the NSA or the FISA courts, these are patriots trying to keep the nation safe,” he said.
“When you have political hacks that potentially use these agencies improperly? That’s the problem. You have to get the political hacks out of the process.”