Susan Rice may have committed a crime, Trump says without providing evidence
- Author: Leroy Wright Apr 09, 2017,
Apr 09, 2017, 7:23
Ms. Rice has denied any impropriety.
Some Republicans have latched onto allegations about former National Security Adviser Susan Rice to bolster their narrative that President Barack Obama's administration misused intelligence for political purposes. I've never seen people so indignant, including many Democrats who are friends of mine.
Experts say the standard required to ask for a name to be unmasked is easy to meet, meaning it's unlikely Rice did not follow the rules if intelligence officials ultimately granted her requests.
National-security correspondent Jim Sciutto (who joined the network straight from the Obama administration) labeled it "a ginned-up scandal" and President Trump's "latest attempt" to "divert attention from his team's contacts with Russian Federation".
This is typically done because the official needs the name to understand the full context of the report. While it was legal for her to do this, it was highly unethical and would be a huge scandal if a Republican senior official sought the names of Democratic political opponents from USA intelligence reports. The associates' names were then illegally leaked to the press.
I think it's one of the biggest stories. The President offered no evidence to back up the allegation.
A source close to the matter told ABC News that Trump had no knowledge of the unmasking when he wrote those tweets.
Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, met with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013 and provided him documents about the energy industry, according to court documents from a 2015 prosecution alleging a Cold War-style spy ring in NY. That's because a prosecutor would have to find that Rice unmasked the identities of these Trump officials for purely political purposes.
Does Trump think Rice committed a crime?
"If the president wants to say that Susan Rice committed a crime, he has the power to declassify. [Richard] Burr, Sen. [Mark] Warner, to conduct a bipartisan investigation of this whole episode", McConnell said during a Fox News interview when asked whether he thought Rice should testify.
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. Unmasking is not leaking, and as our own Karen DeYoung notes, Rice couldn't have names unmasked without permission from the relevant intelligence agency - a system in place to prevent political abuses.
MAJOR GARRETT: Questions about Rice's actions and motivations have for the moment overshadowed the three ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. USA law allows intelligence agencies broad authority to surveil foreign targets, but the names of US citizens must be masked to protect their constitutional rights.
Nunes first viewed the documents on White House grounds a day before briefing the president, creating an air of suspicion that he was doing the White House's bidding.
On Thursday, Nunes announced he had been the subject of accusations to the House Ethics Committee related to the White House episode, ones he called baseless.
At the same time, he also praised Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, whose show The O'Reilly Factor has been shedding advertisers this week after a Times report revealed he or the company had made payments to five women who had accused him of sexual harassment or other inappropriate behavior.
That's the take of Rep. Peter King, who sits on the House Intelligence committee.
CBS This Morning report however, was the most straightforward of the three, offering commentary from both Republicans and Democrats.