According to a USA official, Rice asked spy agencies to give her the names of Trump associates who surfaced in intelligence reports she was regularly briefed on. When asked if he thought Obama's former adviser had committed a crime by seeking the identities of his affiliates, Trump responded, "Do I think?"
Rice's interview came amid a growing controversy that the Obama administration abused US intelligence to spy on the Trump campaign and leak intelligence to the press to hurt Trump.
Her efforts may draw parallels to former President Nixon's efforts to spy on his political opponents.
"The question becomes what does she do with that information once she knew it, rather than did she have the right to ask and did she actually do it", added Shedd, who is now a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation. "I was put on to ensure that it was de-operationalized".
For the record, there are no credible accusations against Rice, any unmasking she did, she insists, was done as part of her job as President Obama's National Security Advisor, as experts have agreed.
Nunes said during a March 22 press conference that he was "troubled" because the reports he'd seen were not connected to Russian Federation or any foreign intelligence.
The president would not provide any evidence for the claim, which has been debunked by numerous intelligence officials.
"I think it's going to be the biggest story", Trump said.
Her appearance stood in sharp contrast to what she did the day House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes first aired his revelations about the unmasking. Schiff said the issue is a diversion from the question of whether Trump campaign officials colluded with Russian Federation in its election interference. In an exclusive interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Monday, April 4, Rice flatly denied allegations she tried to "unmask" Trump campaign officials caught on surveillance by USA intelligence services with ill intent.
If the intercept pertains to national security-or if it points to a possible crime-the NSA is allowed to include it in classified intelligence reports that circulate in the government to those with security clearances high enough to view such information. "I never have and never will". "The notion, which some people are trying to suggest, that by asking for the identity of an American person, that is the same as leaking it, is completely false".
The names of USA citizens "incidentally" mentioned in NSA reports are masked to preserve their identities because America's intelligence agencies are barred from spying on American citizens except in extraordinary circumstances with court approval.
But there are exceptions.
The dispute revolves around so-called "incidental collection"- when US intelligence agencies inadvertently pick up the names or conversations of USA persons on wiretaps or other communications intercepts.
The intelligence agencies decide whether to grant the requests, which are tracked and archived. FBI Director James Comey and the director of the National Security Agency, Mike Rogers, have since said they have seen no evidence to back up Trump's allegations. Comey did say the number is "surely" more than at NSA, because Federal Bureau of Investigation agents "come into contact" with USA citizens more often.
While conducting this review, Cohen-Watnick found that Rice had made an unusual amount of unmasking requests for individuals related to the Trump campaign and the Trump transition team.
Senior government officials who receive highly sensitive intelligence can ask about the identity of USA persons, including their names, to get a better understanding of the intelligence.
Rice is a senior manager looking over the entire intelligence community. How frequent were the requests, and was there a pattern? Privacy advocates have raised concerns that the new rules - which are yet to be fully implemented - would lead to the information being shared too broadly. When it comes to national security, it is allowable to listen in on American citizens under the assumption that there is a person of interest on the other end of the line. "If I am Rice, I can make a case I need that name".
Read: Donald Trump on Bill O'Reilly: 'I don't think Bill did anything wrong.' "And if it's true she was doing this for any period of time, there's no other reason than political", explains Rep. Pete King (R-New York).
What she did vigorously dispute was any political motivation in the unmasking. "But he said that whatever he was referring to was a legal, lawful surveillance and that it was potentially incidental collection on American citizens".
"Rice is not a law enforcement official", Eddington said. Instead, she could only request it to do so.