In a March 22 interview with PBS, Ms. Rice claimed complete ignorance about any unmasking of Mr. Trump's associates, as was first revealed by Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Rice says it's "absolutely false" that the previous administration used intelligence about President Donald Trump's associates for political purposes.
"If the intelligence community professionals decide that there's some value, national security, foreign policy or otherwise in unmasking someone, they will grant those requests", said former Obama State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf. Congress also needs to determine why Rice made the requests, who else viewed the material, and why Rice found it was appropriate to disseminate the unmasked intelligence to other members of the Government if the reports had no intelligence value and she had no domestic law enforcement authority. Rice has denied leaking the names of Trump's associates under surveillance by US intelligence agencies. Former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin also defended Rice, saying, "she was doing her job". Some of the names of the Americans involved may have been "unmasked" - revealed within secret channels so senior leaders with the appropriate clearances could see them. In others, the target may mention the name of a USA citizen or personal information about her.
"It's such an important story for our country and the world", Trump added. 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.
Immediately following this, Mitchell played a "greatest hits" roundup of Comey and other security and intelligence officials denying Trump's claims of wiretapping, as if to delegitimize the Rice situation as just another unfounded tweet. "It is one of the big stories of our time". "It seems like you are hell-bent to trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays", Spicer told Ryan.
The Trump associates, who were incidentally mentioned on intercepted communications during the Obama administration, were not under surveillance themselves, but had been recorded while speaking with foreigners who were under surveillance by the US. "The effort to ask for the identity of an American citizen is necessary to understand the importance of an intelligence report in some instances".
Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is under Federal Bureau of Investigation scrutiny for his ties to Russian Federation.
Rice became a favorite target of conservatives after the 2012 attacks on a US diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, when she was sent out to do television interviews with talking points about the attacks that later proved to be incorrect.
Trump did not repeat his claim at a White House news conference shortly after the Times interview.