Posts Tagged ‘Devin Nunes’

Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, stepping aside in Russia probe — Requesting to speak to Ethics Committee

April 6, 2017

Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, arrived for a meeting Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

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Rep. Devin Nunes steps aside from Russia probe

After a number of ethics complaints, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., announced today that he will step aside from leading the House Intelligence Committee’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“Several left-wing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics. The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power,” Nunes said in a statement released this morning. But he said today that Rep. Mike Conaway, with assistance from Reps. Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, will “temporarily” lead the committee’s Russia probe while the House Ethics Committee looks into the matter.

“I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims,” the statement concluded.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, who previously said on March 28 that he did not think Nunes should step down, defended Nunes’ integrity but said he supports the decision.

“Devin Nunes has earned my trust over many years for his integrity and dedication to the critical work that the intelligence community does to keep America safe,” Ryan said in a statement. “He continues to have that trust, and I know he is eager to demonstrate to the Ethics Committee that he has followed all proper guidelines and laws. In the meantime, it is clear that this process would be a distraction for the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in our election.”

“Chairman Nunes has offered to step aside as the lead Republican on this probe, and I fully support this decision. Chairman Mike Conaway, a senior member of the Committee, will now lead this investigation in the House. I am confident that he will oversee a professional investigation into Russia’s actions and follow the facts wherever they lead,” he said.

Nunes was on White House grounds March 21 reviewing information pertaining to what he said was the legal, “incidental” collection of surveillance on President Donald Trump’s associates, and possibly Trump himself, one day before he held an impromptu news conference announcing his findings and then briefed the president.

Nunes joined the House Intelligence Committee in 2011 and was appointed chairman by then-House Speaker John Boehner in 2015.

After Trump clinched the GOP nomination, Nunes came out in support of Trump and organized a fundraiser for the Republican nominee in August 2016.

Nunes was named to the executive committee of Trump’s transition team on Nov. 11, 2016. During the transition phase, he advised Trump on his Cabinet nominees and other top positions within the incoming administration.

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Susan Rice wasn’t the only White House official looking to ‘unmask’ Trump team figures – and Mike Flynn wasn’t the only one exposed

April 5, 2017
Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to 'unmask' the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports – and she wasn't the only one

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to ‘unmask’ the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports – and she wasn’t the only one

  • Obama national security advisor Susan Rice is accused of repeatedly asking U.S. agencies to ‘unmask’ Trumpworld names from raw intelligence reports
  • A new report says Rice wasn’t the only one in the Obama White House to do this  
  • It’s not unusual for a high-ranking national security official to ask for the names of people ‘incidentally’ surveilled, in order to understand a report’s context
  • But the name of Rice’s successor Mike Flynn was subsequently leaked to the press – which constitutes a felony
  • The new report also says Flynn was just one of at least two Trump officials whose names were left exposed 

Former national security advisor Susan Rice wasn’t the only Obama administration official to request the ‘unmasking’ of members of President Donald Trump’s transition team – and her successor Mike Flynn was just one of at least two who were left exposed.

Flynn was forced out of his job after a transcript of an intercepted phone call was leaked to The Washington Post, detailing a conversation he had last year with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. – a discussion that reportedly included mention of rolling back U.S. sanctions on Moscow.

It’s not known who the second Trump transition official is, but The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday night that there were two – based on information from a Republican linked to the House Intelligence Committee.

‘The official said Ms. Rice had requested the unmasking of at least one transition official—not Mr. Flynn—who was part of multiple foreign conversations that weren’t related to Russia,’ the Journal reported.

And ‘Rice wasn’t the administration official who instigated Mr. Flynn’s unmasking.’ That puts at least one other Obama White House official in the picture.

Retired Gen. Mike Flynn (left), who served briefly as National Security Advisor before being forced out, wasn't the only Trump transition official whose name was 'unmasked' 

Retired Gen. Mike Flynn (left), who served briefly as National Security Advisor before being forced out, wasn’t the only Trump transition official whose name was ‘unmasked’

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she purposely collected classified intelligence information about anyone associated with the Trump campaign or transition, and said any suspicion that she leaked names to the press was ridiculous.

‘The allegations that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, that’s absolutely false,’ she said.

She used the same words – ‘absolutely false’ – to deny a report in The Daily Caller that she had requested intelligence information on Trump associates and compiled it into a spreadsheet.

‘No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort,’ Rice said.

she blasted Trump’s tweeted claims on March 4 that Obama had authorized surveillance of him and his team before and after the November election.

‘There was no such collection, surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals … and by that I mean directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,’ she said.

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to 'unmask' the identities of Trump or his associates, but The Wall Street Journal says at least two White House officials – and two from Trumpworld – are in the picture

Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to ‘unmask’ the identities of Trump or his associates, but The Wall Street Journal says at least two White House officials – and two from Trumpworld – are in the picture

White House officials, including any president, Rice added, ‘do not have the ability to order such collection.’

‘That can only come from the Justice Department through an established process. It never originates in the White House. So not only did it not occur, it didn’t occur and it could not have occurred – directed by the White House.’

WHAT IS UNMASKING? 

When U.S. intelligence services conduct surveillance of foreign targets, it’s possible that American citizens can be swept up in recorded conversations, intercepted emails or other surveillance.

That can happen when Americans who are not targets of an investigation are ‘incidentally’ captured talking to a target. it can also occur when targets merely mention them during a conversation or in a document.

When this happens, intelligence analysts routinely delete the Americans’ names and replace them with vague identifiers like ‘U.S. Person Number One’ or ‘Person A’ – masking their identity from other government officials who may look at reports.

Senior intelligence officials can request the ‘unmasking’ of those names under certain circumstances, but that creates a risk that the names will be leaked.

Rice said she was ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ by Trump’s accusation, saying ‘it had no basis in fact.’

‘And it wasn’t typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors, she said on MSNBC.

Host Andrea Mitchell asked her whether she ever intentionally ‘unmasked’ Trump-related names ‘in order to spy on them and expose them.

‘Absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, expose, anything,’ Rice responded.

She also flatly denied leaking the name of Gen. Michael Flynn, her successor, to reporters.

‘I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have and never would,’ Rice insisted.

Tuesday on CNN, Rep. Adam Schiff – the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee – defended Rice and said she has been ‘a perennial target for the hard right.’

Schiff said there is ‘a strong desire by the White House that we lose our focus, that we not pursue the investigation of Russia, particularly as it might impact the Trump campaign.’

He also said continuing Rice-bashing ‘is appealing to the Breitbart crowd.’

Rice explained Tuesday that it isn’t uncommon for White House or cabinet officials to request the unmasking of names of U.S. citizens when they are incidentally snared in a spying net.

‘There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided, just “U.S. person”,’ she recalled.

‘And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request the information as to who that U.S. official was.’

Rice said intelligence officials ‘can’t be passive consumers’ of information.

But ‘there’s no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking,’ she insisted.

There is not necessarily anything illegal or unusual about a national security adviser seeking to unmask names in raw reports, in order to fully understand the meaning of intercepted conversations.

But in this case those identities – including the name of then-National Security Advisor Mike Flynn – were subsequently leaked and made public. That is a federal felony.

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice's interview that some news outlets defending Rice have 'an invested angle and narrative'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice’s interview that some news outlets defending Rice have ‘an invested angle and narrative’

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is 'a perennial target for the hard right'

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is ‘a perennial target for the hard right’

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump's teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump’s teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had 'wiretapped' him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had ‘wiretapped’ him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified 'incidentally' in court-approved foreign snooping

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified ‘incidentally’ in court-approved foreign snooping

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered 'in the normal course of business'

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered ‘in the normal course of business’

Trump hasn't stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

Trump hasn’t stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

Susan Rice: ‘I leaked nothing to nobody’

April 5, 2017

 

Image result for susan rice, photos

Susan Rice denies she unmasked Trump-related names ‘for political purposes’ — But does anyone belive her?

  • Obama national security adviser Susan Rice was accused Tuesday of asking U.S. agencies dozens of times to ‘unmask’ Trumpworld names from raw intelligence reports
  • It’s not unusual for a high-ranking national security official to ask for the names of people ‘incidentally’ surveilled, in order to understand a report’s context
  • But some names, including Rice’s successor Mike Flynn, were subsequently leaked to the press – which constitutes a felony 
  • Rice forcefully denied everything during a Tuesday interview on MSNBC 
  • Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called Rice ‘a perennial target for the hard right’

Former national security advisor Susan Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she purposely collected classified intelligence information about Americans associated with the Trump campaign, and said any suspicion that she leaked names to the press were ridiculous.

‘The allegations that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, that’s absolutely false,’ she said.

She used the same words – ‘absolutely false’ – to deny a report in The Daily Caller that she had requested intelligence information on Trump associates and compiled it into a spreadsheet.

‘No spreadsheet, no nothing of the sort,’ Rice said.

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to 'unmask' the identities of Donald turmp or his associates from raw intelligence reports

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice forcefully denied on Tuesday that she or anyone in the White House ever went out of their way to ‘unmask’ the identities of Donald turmp or his associates from raw intelligence reports

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

Rice sat down with MSNBC reporter Andrea Mitchell for a noontime interview that the network hastily began promoting at 11:30 a.m.

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She has been the subject of numerous news reports in the past three days, alleging that she was at the top of a plot to snoop on people in Trump’s inner circle.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters late Tuesday morning that it was suspicious to see news reports denying Rice’s involvement by citing anonymous sources.

‘You would assume that if you stood by the comments that you made several weeks ago, that you wouldn’t need someone who was close to you … to defend it,’ he said.

Spicer singled out CNN for labeling the Rice saga a diversion.

‘I get that at some point they have an invested angle and narrative in this,’ he said, but ‘the more we find out about this, the more you learn that there was clearly something there.’

A half-hour later, Rice blasted President Donald Trump’s tweeted claims a month ago that Obama had authorized surveillance of him and his team before and after the November election.

‘There was no such collection, surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals … and by that I mean directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,’ she said.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice's interview that some news outlets defending Rice have 'an invested angle and narrative'

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said a half-hour before Rice’s interview that some news outlets defending Rice have ‘an invested angle and narrative’

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is 'a perennial target for the hard right'

House Intelligence Committee ranking Democrat Adam Schiff said Susan Rice is ‘a perennial target for the hard right’

White House officials, including any president, Rice added, ‘do not have the ability to order such collection.’

‘That can only come from the Justice Department through an established process. It never originates in the White House. So not only did it not occur, it didn’t occur and it could not have occurred – directed by the White House.’

Rice said she was ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ by Trump’s accusation, saying ‘it had no basis in fact.’

‘And it wasn’t typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors.’

Rice was interviewed on MSNBC in an appearance that the network hurriedly announced a half-hour before airtime.

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

President Trump retweeted a message from Internet newsman Matt Drudge on Tuesday, pointing to an article that claimed Rice ordered intelligence agencies to spy on him

Host Andrea Mitchell asked her whether she ever intentionally ‘unmasked’ Trump-related names ‘in order to spy on them and expose them.

‘Absolutely not for any political purposes, to spy, expose, anything,’ Rice responded.

WHAT IS UNMASKING? 

When U.S. intelligence services conduct surveillance of foreign targets, it’s possible that American citizens can be swept up in recorded conversations, intercepted emails or other surveillance.

That can happen when Americans who are not targets of an investigation are ‘incidentally’ captured talking to a target. it can also occur when targets merely mention them during a conversation or in a document.

When this happens, intelligence analysts routinely delete the Americans’ names and replace them with vague identifiers like ‘U.S. Person Number One’ or ‘Person A’ – masking their identity from other government officials who may look at reports.

Senior intelligence officials can request the ‘unmasking’ of those names under certain circumstances, but that creates a risk that the names will be leaked.

She also flatly denied leaking the name of Gen. Michael Flynn, her successor, to reporters.

‘I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have and never would,’ Rice insisted.

Flynn was forced out of the national security advisor position after a transcript of an intercepted phone call was leaked to The Washington Post, detailing a conversation he had last year with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. – a discussion that reportedly included mention of rolling back U.S. sanctions on Moscow.

Tuesday afternoon on CNN, Rep. Adam Schiff – the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee – defended Rice and said she has been ‘a perennial target for the hard right.’

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul appeared on Morning and demanded that Rice testify under oath before Congress

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump's teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Rice is being blamed for requesting that members of President Trump’s teams names were unmasked in intelligence reports

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to 'unmask' the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports, it has emerged

Former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice asked intelligence agencies dozens of times to ‘unmask’ the names of Donald Trump associates that were redacted from raw intelligence reports, it has emerged

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

Rice, shown in the White House situation room (at left) listening to former president Barack Obama, is now at the center of the firestorm over whether they snooped on Trump during the 2016 election season

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had 'wiretapped' him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

President Donald Trump claimed in a series of March 4 tweets that Obama had ‘wiretapped’ him before the November election; he later clarified that he was talking broadly about secret surveillance

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That routine inquiry apparently uncovered a pattern of Rice’s requests.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified 'incidentally' in court-approved foreign snooping

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a sneak peek last week at intelligence reports at the White House which are now believed to be security logs showing how often Rice asked to know which Trump officials were identified ‘incidentally’ in court-approved foreign snooping

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White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered 'in the normal course of business'

White House Press secretary Sean Spicer said Friday that unspecified documents seen by Nunes were uncovered ‘in the normal course of business’

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Trump hasn't stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

Trump hasn’t stopped tweeting about reports that support his March claims that he was surveilled for political purposes

 

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4379956/Susan-Rice-accusations-against-absolutely-false.html#ixzz4dMzpdGy2
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WSJ: Obama Administration may have abused domestic surveillance for its political purposes — Susan Rice unmasked (again)

April 4, 2017

Obama’s security adviser sought the name of at least one Trump official in intelligence reports.

Susan Rice speaks during a conference on the transition of the U.S. Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the U.S. Institute Of Peace, Jan. 10.

Susan Rice speaks during a conference on the transition of the U.S. Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the U.S. Institute Of Peace, Jan. 10. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Well, what do you know. On the matter of who “unmasked” the names of Trump transition officials in U.S. intelligence reports, we now have one answer: Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s national security adviser.

A U.S. intelligence official confirms to us the bombshell news, first reported Monday by Bloomberg, that Ms. Rice requested the name of at least one Trump transition official listed in an intelligence report in the months between Election Day and Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Ms. Rice received summaries of U.S. eavesdropping either when foreign officials were discussing the Trump team, or when foreign officials were conversing with a Trump transition member. The surveillance was legally authorized, but the identities of U.S. citizens are typically masked so they cannot be known outside intelligence circles. Ms. Rice asked for and learned the identity of the Trump official, whose name hasn’t been publicly disclosed and our source declined to share.

Our source did confirm that Ms. Rice also examined dozens of other intelligence summaries that technically masked Trump official identities but were written in such a way as to make obvious who those officials were. This means that the masking was essentially meaningless. All this is highly unusual—and troubling. Unmasking does occur, but it is typically done by intelligence or law-enforcement officials engaged in antiterror or espionage investigations. Ms. Rice would have had no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity.

We’re told by a source who has seen the unmasked documents that they included political information about the Trump transition team’s meetings and policy intentions. We are also told that none of these documents had anything to do with Russia or the FBI investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign. While we don’t know if Ms. Rice requested these dozens of reports, we are told that they were only distributed to a select group of recipients—conveniently including Ms. Rice.

All of this helps to explain the actions in the last week of House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, the one official in Washington who seems interested in pursuing the evidence of politicized surveillance. Mr. Nunes was roundly criticized by Democrats and the media last week for publicly revealing at least one instance of Obama White House unmasking, albeit without disclosing any names.

Now we know he is onto something. And we know that Mr. Nunes had to go to the White House to verify his information because the records containing Ms. Rice’s unmasking request are held at the National Security Council.

Where are the civil libertarians when you really need them? These columns support broad surveillance powers for national security, but executive officials need to be accountable if those powers are abused. If congressional oversight of U.S. intelligence operations is going to be worth the name, then it should include the unmasking of a political opponent by a senior official in the White House.

Democrats certainly raised a fuss during the Bush years and after Edward Snowden kicked off the debate about “metadata,” which are merely telephone numbers without names. Oregon Senator Ron Wyden went so far as to introduce a bill in 2013 to strengthen the ban on “reverse targeting”—in which intelligence agencies surveil foreigners but with the goal of capturing U.S. citizen communications.

Yet now that there’s evidence that the Obama Administration may have unmasked Trump officials, Democrats couldn’t care less. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on House Intelligence, has spent the past week denouncing Mr. Nunes for revealing that a name was unmasked and for having sources at the White House. But he hasn’t raised a peep about the unmasking itself or who was behind it.

Image result for susan rice, photos

The news about Ms. Rice’s unmasking role raises a host of questions for the Senate and House intelligence committees to pursue. What specific surveillance information did Ms. Rice seek and why? Was this information related to President Obama’s decision in January to make it possible for raw intelligence to be widely disbursed throughout the government? Was this surveillance of Trump officials “incidental” collection gathered while listening to a foreigner, or were some Trump officials directly targeted, or “reverse targeted”?

We were unable to locate Ms. Rice Monday to ask for comment, and she hasn’t addressed the unmasking as far as we know. But asked last month on the “PBS NewsHour” that Trump officials might have been surveilled, she said, “I know nothing about this” and “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.” She certainly deserves her turn under oath on Capitol Hill.

None of this should deter investigators from looking into the Trump-Russia connection. By all means follow that evidence where it leads. But the media have been running like wildebeest after that story while ignoring how the Obama Administration might have abused domestic surveillance for its political purposes. Americans deserve to know the truth about both.

Appeared in the Apr. 04, 2017, print edition.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/susan-rice-unmasked-1491262064

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 (Eli Lake)

Image result for Ben Rhodes, susan rice, photos

Ben Rhodes and Susan Rice (Right)

Image result for Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012, photo, man with gun
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi late on Sept. 11, 2012. US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three of his colleagues were killed in an attack on the consulate in the eastern Libyan city by Islamists outraged over an amateur American-made Internet video mocking Islam. Stevens died less than six months after being appointed to his post. STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
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Image result for Susan Rice September 16, 2012, photos

Susan Rice, Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blockbuster Scandal: The Obama Administration Weaponized Intelligence for Use Against Trump

April 3, 2017

From The Rush Limbaugh Show

Apil 3, 2017

USH: I want to circle back here to the story that just won’t go away, and it won’t go away because the Democrats have continued to try to make something out of nothing. Even, you know, that bobblehead figure, Adam “Shifty” Schiff, known affectionately here as the Pencil Neck. This guy last week went out there and said there is evidence of Russian collusion. He went out there and said it in an act of total desperation.

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Pencil Neck Schiff

It turns out that Devin Nunes has been running rings around the Democrats, and it looks like they’ve known it all along, and the effort to get Nunes to, quote, unquote, recuse himself as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee or the effort to get rid of him in some other way obviously was undertaken to stop what he is doing and what he is learning. But yesterday on the Sunday shows, Pencil Neck Adam Schiff had to grudgingly admit yet again that there is still not one shred of evidence of any collusion between Trump and the Russians, not a shred.

This is after last week, making the announcement that there was evidence. He just couldn’t help himself. He just couldn’t contain himself. These people are living in a dreamland where they’re hoping that everything they suspect is true, just remains to be found. And he just screwed up and couldn’t help himself and went ahead and announced it when he didn’t have any evidence for it. And it’s a sign of how out of control these people are and unhinged. And I don’t use those terms lightly. I’m not just coming up with descriptive phrases. They genuinely are out of control, and they genuinely are unhinged.

Now, I don’t know if Adam Schiff was embarrassed at all. I don’t know if these people are capable of it. But it helps somebody like him when you know the media is gonna do everything they can to cover for you. But he had to admit, after all of this, folks, after all of this, we now know that Trump has been surveilled for a year. We now know that the Obama administration was responsible for the unmasking. We now know that it was Susan Rice, who lied on five Sunday shows about Benghazi, we know that it was Susan Rice who requested the unmasking of all of these Trump officials.

We now know that what I suspected all along — and I’m not alone — that was happening indeed did happen, that Russians were surveilled, and that they were talking to Americans, the transcript of the conversations was turned over to people in the Obama administration, such as Mike Flynn, and there are others, and now Susan Rice has been fingered as one of the sources who asked that these people be unmasked so that details of the conversations could be leaked.

And they were leaked. But these people were not targets of the surveillance. They are never to be identified. And we now know that it was the Obama administration — go back to the story where Obama, when he left office, proudly said not one scandal in my administration, scandal free eight years. Not so fast. So Schiff has to eat dirt.

Remember, James Comey testified the Russians just wanted Hillary to lose. So why would they involve Trump in their scheme? The Russians know their calls are monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. Why would they risk their effort to defeat Hillary by colluding with Trump’s people? If that had come out before the election, she would have won for sure. In fact, everything that was known today has been known for quite a while by people in the intelligence community, by people at the FBI.

But the real scandal here — and it’s becoming increasingly clear — is that the Obama administration weaponized politically our intelligence services against the Republicans and against Trump. I, for one, am not surprised. The Obama administration weaponized everything else to use against the GOP, from the IRS to NOAA to any of these agencies, EPA, involving climate change.

So here’s where we are. In bullet-point fashion, details to come, here is where we are. This is what we know in this developing blockbuster story about the Obama the White House — and it is a story about the Obama White House. It is not a story about Trump and the Russians. We know that the Obama Regime surveilled Trump’s transition team. We know now that the Obama White House unmasked people who were not targets of legitimate surveillance and investigation. We know now that the Obama White House illegal leaked protected information. And, by the way, we knew this long ago.

The media is our source. The Drive-By Media reported all of this. We know that there had to be unmasking. We know that there had to be leaking. The media proudly told us that sources who could not be identified, blah, blah, blah, blah, fed them data. We know now that the media was complicit. And here’s a little detail. Mike Cernovich reports in his story on all this today that Maggie Haberman at the New York Times has known for two days that Susan Rice was behind the unmasking and sat on it to protect President Obama. That’s an assertion made by Mike Cernovich on his web page today.

There are two stories on this — one by Eli Lake at Bloomberg, the other Mike Cernovich, and he specifically claims that Maggie Haberman of the New York Times has known it was Susan Rice for 48 hours and sat on it. Much like Newsweek sat on the story of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, and then eventually spiked the story leading the way to the Drudge Report. We know that Susan Rice lied about her knowledge of this illegal activity in an interview. The Democrats have loved saying, “We’re not doing that! No, no, no. We’re just following the facts. We’re just going with the facts take us.”

They’re not gonna want to go there anymore. They haven’t been doing that anyway. The facts are beginning to roll in, and it turns out that Trump and Devin Nunes are not the story. They are victims of abuse of power by the Obama administration and Democrat collusion with the media. The first the Eli Lake story: “Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel.” Eli Lake is an intel/foreign policy expert/reporter/journalist. He’s a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the senior national security correspondent for The Daily Beast, which is a deranged, lunatic, left-wing site started by Tina Brown.

He covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the New York Sun and UPI. I don’t know how he ended up briefly at The Daily Beast, but he was. His story begins thus: “White House lawyers last month…” Discovered last month! White House lawyers! This is the Office of Presidential Counsel. This is the office of Don McGann, essentially. That’s the counsel’s office. That’s the official counselor to the president.

“White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.” She requested their identities. She, in other words, demanded that they be unmasked so she could find out who they were. You put this together with Evelyn Farkas, who appeared on MSNBC on March the 2nd pretty much admitting all of this, that they were gathering the evidence.

They were preserving the evidence. They didn’t trust the Trump administration not to throw it all away; so they decided to leak it. “The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on ‘unmasking’ the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally.” The New York Times has also reported this back in January! They’ve used the word “wiretaps.” They’ve used the word “incidentally.”

To review briefly, here’s what happens. An intelligence agency — take your pick: CIA, NSA, DIA, you name it — survivals foreign actors, nations, individuals, spies. In this case, in this example, the Russian ambassador is survived; his phone calls are tapped. The Russian ambassador knows it. This is standard operating procedure standard. They survival us in Moscow, or try. Statecraft, it’s what happens. Nothing illegal about that. That’s what Devin Nunes meant when he said that what he had seen at the Old Executive Office Building, there was nothing illegal about it, because the surveillance was not targeting Americans. It was targeting Russians. So they’re surveilling the Russian ambassador.

You’re tapping his phone, and in the process you overhear conversations that he’s having with, say, Michael Flynn of the Trump transition team. When that happens, those transcribing this call are supposed to not identity the American involved, instead referring to him as “American number one.” If there’s another American in the same call, that would be called “American number two” and so on. The name is not revealed nor are the details of what the American says because the American isn’t the target.

That’s where the Obama administration steps in. Susan Rice asked for the American in these calls to be unmasked so that she and Obama and Valerie Jarrett and probably the whole kit and caboodle would know who was saying what was said on these calls. The interesting thing is the backtrack. Since they’ve had… And there’s a tape of this call between the Russian ambassador and Flynn.

If Flynn had indeed promised anything about lifting sanctions once Trump was inaugurated, they wouldn’t have reported that by now. It is clear that Flynn did not do anything actionable because all they’ve been able to do is leak supposition and create mystery about it. But they’ve known all along that nothing happened! They’ve known all along that Flynn didn’t do anything illegal in his conversation with the Russian ambassador. So the leaks have been intended to create suspicion rather than allay it.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Quickly back to the Eli Lake piece: “The pattern of” the requests made by Susan Rice of the Obama administration to unmask all of these Americans in this treasure trove of wiretapped intelligence and retrieved intelligence “was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on ‘unmasking’ the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally.”

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Last week, there were a number of Republicans who were going against the grain and saying the NSA had a bombshell coming. Do you remember that? Immediately there were people who were distrustful of it because the NSA and the FBI and the CIA are all perceived to be part of the Obama deep state, where a number of Obama embeds and holdovers remain attempting to sabotage both the Trump transition and the Trump presidency.

But it turns out that the NSA did indeed have a bombshell. Somebody there — a whistleblower, somebody — revealed that it was Susan Rice who was requesting that all of these Americans incidentally caught up in foreign surveillance be unmasked, and it has to be agents of the Obama administration (which we know instinctively) who were leaking all of this to the media. But it gets even better.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We are in the middle of a blockbuster piece of news that the mainstream still sits on. They still have not reported this. Now, I want to go back to the Eli Lake piece, this one allusion here that “[T]he pattern of [Susan] Rice’s requests” that Americans incidentally caught an intelligence and surveillance of others — the unmasked and identified — again, were “discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on ‘unmasking’ the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets…”

She was instrumental in this.

And we know the National Security Council probably by way of the NSA, but regardless. “The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks.” Now, remember how his behavior’s been characterized by the media: treasonous, unfair, cheating, that Devin Nunes secretly — under the cover of darkness — snuck into the White House grounds to take a look at intelligence that only he saw, and he didn’t share it with his counterpart, Adam Schiff, on the Intelligence Committee.

And this is unseemly, and he should recuse himself, and he should resign from the committee, and he maybe should even leave his office as a member of the House of Representatives. Now, it emerged last week that Nunes went to the White House last month, the night before he made an allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time, he said he needed to go to the White House because reports were only on a database for the executive branch. I covered this last week. The National Security Council is in the Executive Office Building on the fourth floor, and nothing leaves there because it’s securely maintained there.

You want to see it; you go there. Nunes went there. It now appears that Nunes needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice’s requests to unmask Americans. That’s what he saw. That is what led to him alluding to the fact that the president was correct that he had been surveilled. Remember, unmasking — in this case, identifying Americans incidentally caught up in the surveillance of others — effectively means Americans are being surveilled. And in fact, I’ll go so… I want to repeat an allegation. Well, not quite an allegation.

 

I want to repeat a possibility that I mentioned, and it is this: That the Obama administration chose surveillance targets knowing that they would be talking to specific Americans, wanting to see what those specific Americans were talking about. So while they couldn’t get a FISA warrant to target Americans, they purposely targeted for surveillance foreign actors that they knew Trump transition people would be talking to and learned what they were saying that way. And that’s why Rice was requesting that these people be unmasked so that she and Obama and whoever else in this operation would understand who was being talked about and who was saying what.

Now, this brings us back to Pencil Neck, Adam Schiff. The ranking Democrat on the committee that Nunes chairs just had a gasket blown. He went nuts, claiming that the Democrats on the committee were being left out, that we shouldn’t trust what Nunes was saying. He might be making it up, that this was unseemly; it should not be tolerated. So he went up there; he viewed these reports on Friday. And in comments to the press over the weekend, he declined to discuss them, but he said “no evidence.”

After last week, earlier, claiming to have proof now that there was collusion between the Russians and Trump, Pencil Neck went on the Sunday shows and had to totally back out of that. And he’s reduced to once again saying (summarized), “We don’t have evidence of anything. That’s why we need to keep looking.” There isn’t evidence of anything that has been charged. The scandal here is not Trump. The scandal is not Trump and the Russians. The scandal is the Obama administration and these embeds in the deep state surveilling targets with the express purpose of hoping to capture Americans as part of the surveillance.

And as Eli Lake says, “[M]uch about this is highly unusual: if not how the surveillance was collected, then certainly how and why it was disseminated.” So Nunes is looking to be the exact opposite of the way the media portrayed him. Nunes was actually trying to get to the bottom of this and found out how deep the bottom is. Well, let’s go to the Schiff. From State of the Union on CNN Sunday morning. Jake Tapper: Congressman Pencil Neck, “The big issue is whether or not there was collusion among members of the Trump campaign or Trump advisers.

“Can you definitely say that there was collusion, that there were people affiliated with the Trump campaign who were working with the Russians to time the release of damaging information about Hillary Clinton that had been hacked either from John Podesta or the DNC?” That’s the entire Democrat case right there. That is it summed up. That is what they want everybody to believe. That’s what this lunatic Tom Perez, the new chairman of the DNC, said at a rally in Newark over the weekend, “Trump didn’t win the presidency.

“Trump and the Republicans don’t give an [excrement] about people.” The guy went off the rails. He made this militant Islamist Keith Ellison look mild-mannered by nature. Ellison was second in the voting for chairman of the DNC. This Perez guy is just an uber-partisan, and was just off the rails. And this is it, but they believe… You know what, folks? They know all of this is made up. Although they are so off the rails, I think they’ve bought their own lie and series of lies for so long now that they actually probably believe it happened.

There isn’t any evidence whatsoever.

There has never been any evidence that voters were tampered with. Nobody’s even alleged that. There was never any evidence whatsoever. And look at what the Democrats are admitting, if their version of events actually happened: That the Russians were able to plant fake news and that the Russians hacked Podesta and that the Russians got to WikiLeaks and WikiLeaks released all the emails. Look at what they’re asking us to believe: that the Russians were able to outsmart the American voter, that the Russians were able to screw with the minds of the American voter and make them vote against Democrats.

 

The Democrats are portraying themselves as weak, ineffective, and incompetent as they attempt to make the case that Russian collusion with Trump stole the election from them. So here is Schiff answering that question from Jake Tapper. (summarized) “Do you have any evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign, Trump advisers and Russia? Can you definitively say there was collusion? Can you say that this resulted in Hillary losing the election?”

SCHIFF: I — I don’t think we can say anything definitively at this point. Uh, we are still it he very early stage of the investigation. The only thing I can say that it would be irresponsible for us not to get to the bottom of this. We really need to find out exactly what the Russians did, because one of the most important conclusions that the Intelligence Committee reached is that they are gonna do this again to the United States. They’re doing it already in Europe. So we can say, y’know, conclusively: This is something that needs to be thoroughly investigated. Uh, but it — but it’s way premature to be reaching conclusions.

RUSH: Really? He had just reached a conclusion a few days earlier when he went out and said that there was evidence of collusion. He had to pull it back because there isn’t any. This is gonna blow up on ’em. The media’s gonna cover for ’em when it happens, I understand, but it’s gonna blow up on them. This is going to be… Gorsuch is gonna blow up on ’em too.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: How many of you in the audience think that the Democrats actually believe they can force Trump out of office and that that’s why they are doing this? Think about that, will you? I’m gonna address that as we dig even deeper into this unmasking story, this blockbuster. Hang on. Be right back.

 (Eli Lake)

Did Susan Rice “Unmask” Republicans? — Political Use of U.S. Intelligence Community?

April 3, 2017

Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel

Bloomberg View
APRIL 3, 2017 10:13 AM EDT
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White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

Image result for susan rice, photos

The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

The intelligence reports were summaries of monitored conversations — primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials. One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.

Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning. Her role in requesting the identities of Trump transition officials adds an important element to the dueling investigations surrounding the Trump White House since the president’s inauguration.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are probing any ties between Trump associates and a Russian influence operation against Hillary Clinton during the election. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Representative Devin Nunes, is also investigating how the Obama White House kept tabs on the Trump transition after the election through unmasking the names of Trump associates incidentally collected in government eavesdropping of foreign officials.

Rice herself has not spoken directly on the issue of unmasking. Last month when she was asked on the “PBS NewsHour” about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection, Rice said: “I know nothing about this,” adding, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”

Rice’s requests to unmask the names of Trump transition officials does not vindicate Trump’s own tweets from March 4 in which he accused Obama of illegally tapping Trump Tower. There remains no evidence to support that claim.

But Rice’s multiple requests to learn the identities of Trump officials discussed in intelligence reports during the transition period does highlight a longstanding concern for civil liberties advocates about U.S. surveillance programs. The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. This suggests Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.

The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks. It emerged last week that he traveled to the White House last month, the night before he made an explosive allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time he said he needed to go to the White House because the reports were only on a database for the executive branch. It now appears that he needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice’s requests to unmask U.S. persons.

The ranking Democrat on the committee Nunes chairs, Representative Adam Schiff, viewed these reports on Friday. In comments to the press over the weekend he declined to discuss the contents of these reports, but also said it was highly unusual for the reports to be shown only to Nunes and not himself and other members of the committee.

Indeed, much about this is highly unusual: if not how the surveillance was collected, then certainly how and why it was disseminated.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-03/top-obama-adviser-sought-names-of-trump-associates-in-intel

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Susan Rice unmasked? Previously said “I know nothing about” Nunes allegations

Posted by    Monday, April 3, 2017 at 10:53am

Reports indicate discovery of pattern of unmasking requests by Rice prompted Devin Nunes actions.

Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, infamous for lying repeatedly on national television about the Benghazi attack being the result of a video, may be at the center of the “unmasking” scandal uncovered by Congressman Devin Nunes.

We covered yesterday how Dems want Devin Nunes removed, but can’t unhear unmasking allegations.

Eli Lake at Bloomberg News reports on the discovery of a suspicious pattern of unmasking requests by Rice near the end of the Obama administration, Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel:

White House lawyers last month discovered that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

Lake argues that Rice’s requests do not necessarily violate the law, since she would have had broad authority to request unmasking, but that does not lessen the political impact:

But Rice’s multiple requests to learn the identities of Trump officials discussed in intelligence reports during the transition period does highlight a longstanding concern for civil liberties advocates about U.S. surveillance programs. The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. This suggests Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.

The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks. It emerged last week that he traveled to the White House last month, the night before he made an explosive allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time he said he needed to go to the White House because the reports were only on a database for the executive branch. It now appears that he needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice’s requests to unmask U.S. persons.

This information was first reported by Mike Cernovich in a post at Medium yesterday:

Susan Rice, who served as the National Security Adviser under President Obama, has been identified as the official who requested unmasking of incoming Trump officials, Cernovich Media can exclusively report.

The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests. The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions. Each person must log her name before being granted access to them.

Upon learning of Rice’s actions, H. R. McMaster dispatched his close aide Derek Harvey to Capitol Hill to brief Chairman Nunes.

This could be a major league scandal, as Rice publicly has said “I know nothing” about Nunes’ allegations, Susan Rice on Trump’s wiretapping claim: ‘Nothing of the sort occurred.’

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice pushed back Wednesday against President Donald Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by the Obama administration during the 2016 election.

“Nothing of the sort occurred,” Rice told PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, in her first interview since stepping down as national security adviser when President Barack Obama left office.

Why hadn’t the NY Times or WaPo, with all their leak sources, previously reported this?

If @Cernovich scooped the NYT and MSM and they therefore simply refuse to report about , we will have reached peak lib media.

This post will be updated as more information emerges.

http://legalinsurrection.com/2017/04/susan-rice-unmasked/

Trump faces questions of interference in investigations

March 31, 2017

 

By JULIE PACE and EILEEN SULLIVAN

The Associated Press

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 30, 2017, about the actions of Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. as the panel continues to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the web of contacts between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is facing new questions about political interference in the investigations into Russian election meddling following reports that White House officials secretly funneled material to the chairman of the House intelligence committee.

Trying to fend off the growing criticism, Trump’s top lawyer invited lawmakers from both parties to view classified information at the White House. Thursday’s invitation came as The New York Times reported that two White House officials — including an aide whose job was recently saved by President Donald Trump — secretly helped House intelligence committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes examine intelligence information there last week.

Nunes is leading one of three investigations into Russia’s attempt to influence the campaign and Trump associates’ possible involvement. The Senate intelligence committee, which has thus far taken a strikingly more measured and bipartisan approach to its own Russia probe, tried to keep its distance from the White House and asked that the documents uncovered by Trump aides be given to lawmakers via the appropriate agencies.

The cloud of investigation has hung over Trump’s White House since the day he took office. On Thursday, an attorney for Michael Flynn, Trump’s ex-national security adviser, said Flynn is in discussions with the congressional committees about speaking to them in exchange for immunity. The talks are preliminary, and no official offers have been made.

“General Flynn certainly has a story to tell, and he very much wants to tell it, should the circumstances permit,” Flynn’s attorney, Robert Kelner, said in a statement.

Other Trump associates have volunteered to speak with investigators, but have not publicly raised the issue of immunity.

Flynn, a member of the Trump campaign and transition, was fired as national security adviser after it was publicly disclosed that he misled the vice president about a conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Flynn’s ties to Russia have been scrutinized by the FBI and are under investigation by the House and Senate intelligence panels.

The House committee’s work has been deeply, and perhaps irreparably, undermined by Nunes’ apparent coordination with the White House. He told reporters last week that he had seen troubling information about the improper distribution of Trump associates’ intercepted communications, and he briefed the president on the material, all before informing Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat.

Speaking on Capitol Hill Thursday, Schiff said he was “more than willing” to accept the White House offer to view new information. But he raised concerns that Trump officials may have used Nunes to “launder information to our committee to avoid the true source.”

“The White House has a lot of questions to answer,” he declared.

Instead, the White House continued to sidestep queries about its role in showing Nunes classified information that appears to have included transcripts of foreign officials discussing Trump’s transition to the presidency, according to current and former U.S. officials. Intelligence agencies routinely monitor the communications of foreign officials living in the U.S., though the identities of Americans swept up in that collection is supposed to be protected.

In Washington early last week, White House officials privately encouraged reporters to look into whether information about Trump associates had been improperly revealed in the intelligence gathering process. Days later, Nunes announced that he had evidence, via an unnamed source, showing that Trump and his aides’ communications had been collected through legal means but then “widely disseminated” throughout government agencies. He said the collections were not related to the Russia investigation.

Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said Thursday the material the White House wants the House and Senate intelligence leaders to view was discovered by the National Security Council through the course of regular business. He would not say whether it was the same material Nunes had already seen.

A congressional aide said Schiff did not receive the White House letter until after Spicer announced it from the White House briefing room.

Spicer had previously dismissed the notion that the White House had fed information to Nunes, saying the idea that the congressman would come and brief Trump on material the president’s team already had “doesn’t pass the smell test.” The White House quickly embraced Nunes’ revelations, saying they vindicated Trump’s explosive and unverified claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped his New York skyscraper.

Nunes has said the information he received did not support that allegation, which has also been disputed by Obama and top intelligence officials.

The Times reported that Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the White House National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a White House lawyer who previously worked on the House intelligence committee, played roles in helping Nunes view the materials.

Cohen-Watnick is among about a dozen White House officials who would have access to the types of classified information Nunes says he viewed, according to current and former U.S. officials. He’s become a controversial figure in intelligence circles, but Trump decided to keep him on over the objections of the CIA and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, according to the officials. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly by name.

Cohen-Watnick and Nunes both served on the Trump transition team.

Stephen Slick, a former CIA and NSC official, said it would be “highly unusual and likely unprecedented” for a member of Congress to travel to the White House to view intelligence reports “without prior authorization.”

Nunes has repeatedly sidestepped questions about who provided him the intelligence reports, though he pointedly has not denied that his sources were in the White House. House Speaker Paul Ryan, in an interview with “CBS This Morning” that aired Thursday, said Nunes told him a “whistleblower-type person” provided the information.

A spokesman for Ryan later said the speaker was not aware of Nunes’ source and continues to have “full confidence” in the congressman’s ability to run the Russia investigation.

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Associated Press writers Chad Day and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

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Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC and Eileen Sullivan at http://twitter.com/esullivanap

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2 White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports

March 30, 2017

WASHINGTON — A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, a Republican and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed that President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies.

The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports — which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump — is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia’s meddling in the last presidential election.

Mr. Nunes has also been faulted by his congressional colleagues for sharing the information with President Trump before consulting with other members of the intelligence committee.

The congressman has refused to identify his sources, saying he needed to protect them so others would feel safe coming to the committee with sensitive information. He disclosed the existence of the intelligence reports on March 22, and in his public comments he has described his sources as whistle-blowers trying to expose wrongdoing at great risk to themselves.

Several current American officials identified the White House officials as Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer who works on national security issues at the White House Counsel’s Office and formerly worked on the staff of the House Intelligence Committee.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

Mr. Cohen-Watnick is a former Defense Intelligence Agency official who was originally brought to the White House by Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser. The officials said that this month, shortly after Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter about being wiretapped on the orders of President Barack Obama, Mr. Cohen-Watnick began reviewing highly classified reports detailing the intercepted communications of foreign officials.

Officials said the reports consisted primarily of ambassadors and other foreign officials talking about how they were trying to develop contacts within Mr. Trump’s family and inner circle in advance of his inauguration.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the intelligence and to avoid angering Mr. Cohen-Watnick and Mr. Ellis. Officials say Mr. Cohen-Watnick has been reviewing the reports from his fourth-floor office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where the National Security Council is based.

But the officials’ description of the intelligence is in line with Mr. Nunes’s own characterization of the material, which he has said was not related to the Russia investigations when he disclosed its existence in a hastily arranged news conference.

According to Mr. Nunes, he received a phone call from a source the night before, and then rushed to meet the person on the grounds of the White House. He has explained the choice of location by saying he needed access to a secure place where people with security clearances could legally view classified information, though such facilities can also be found in the Capitol building and at other locations across Washington.

The next day, Mr. Nunes gave a news briefing at the Capitol and then returned to the White House to brief President Trump on the information.

Mr. Nunes and Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee, have held dueling news conferences in the days since Mr. Nunes’s revelations, fueling criticism that the committee is unable to conduct a serious, bipartisan investigation.

The chaotic situation prompted the leaders of the Senate intelligence committee, which is running its own investigation, to state bluntly on Wednesday that their work had nothing to do with the House inquiry. And television news programs have been dominated by arguments about whether the incidental intelligence gathering of Mr. Trump and his associates was the real issue, or simply a distraction from the Russia investigations.

Mr. Nunes has acknowledged that the incidental intelligence gathering on Trump associates last year was not necessarily unlawful. American intelligence agencies typically monitor foreign officials of allied and hostile countries, and they routinely sweep up communications linked to Americans who may be taking part in the conversation or are being spoken about.

The real issue, Mr. Nunes has said, was that he could figure out the identities of Trump associates from reading reports about intercepted communications that were shared among Obama administration officials with top security clearances. He said some Trump associates were also identified by name in the reports. Normally, intelligence agencies mask the identities of American citizens who are incidentally present in intercepted communications.

Nunes-White House question — minute-by-minute

March 29, 2017
March 29 at 4:03 PM
The Washington Post
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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is under fire from Democrats who say the House intelligence committee chair should recuse himself from the committee’s investigation into Russia, because he’s too close to President Trump. Can Nunes retain his credibility as the investigation plays out? (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza laid out a compelling case on Tuesday evening for why he thinks that the White House was likely aware of what Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) was up to last week.

Nunes, as you probably now know, is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and, in that role, in charge of one of the investigations into how Russia may have tried to influence the 2016 election and, further, if anyone associated with President Trump’s campaign was involved. Over the course of the past week, though, Nunes has imperiled that position. On March 22, he suddenly told the press that he’d seen intelligence suggesting that some Trump associates had been caught up in government surveillance — which, we were left to assume, might mean that Trump’s March 4 tweets about having been wiretapped by former president Barack Obama had some validity.

Since Nunes didn’t actually share that intelligence, since he later amended his description of what he’d seen and since the manner in which he alerted the public to what he’d discovered can at best be described as unorthodox, the story quickly became about Nunes instead of what he alleges he learned. As reporters dug into the story, we learned that Nunes actually reviewed those documents within the White House complex (though not at the White House itself).

Lizza’s piece fleshes out the timeline further, including a conversation Lizza had with an administration staffer at the beginning of last week suggesting that the White House and Nunes would offer the same argument in defense of Trump’s (false) assertion.

Here are the key points of what Nunes and the White House said and did.

Saturday, March 4. Trump tweets.

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!

Wednesday, March 15. While answering question from reporters about his committee’s investigation, Nunes — who served on the executive committee of Trump’s presidential transition team — tells NBC’s Kasie Hunt that “it’s very possible” that associates of Trump’s may have been swept up in what’s called “incidental collection.” That would mean that their communication was inadvertently observed as authorities were surveilling someone else. Imagine if you’re reading through someone’s email looking for information. Emails sent to or from other people from that account would be viewed by you incidentally.

This is apparently what happened to former national security adviser Michael Flynn. His communications with Russia’s ambassador were revealed because the ambassador was under surveillance, not, it seems, because Flynn was.

March 15, evening. In an interview with Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, Trump explains how he “learned” about the wiretapping after “reading about things” and having “been seeing a lot of things.”

He then makes a comment that’s more resonant after the Nunes mess.

Now, for the most part, I’m not going to discuss it, because we have it before the committee and we will be submitting things before the committee very soon that hasn’t been submitted as of yet. But it’s potentially a very serious situation.

He later adds:

But, we will be submitting certain things and I will be perhaps speaking about this next week, but it’s right now before the committee, and I think I want to leave it. I have a lot of confidence in the committee. … I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.

This sort of “you’ll see” argumentation from Trump is not uncommon. Consider his allegations that millions of people voted illegally, a claim that’s patently false. Trump’s method of rebutting the fact that he has no evidence for the claim is to suggest that more will come out eventually. But here Trump says specifically that “we will be submitting certain things,” which is a slightly different assertion.

Monday, March 20, morning. “[S]hortly before the start of the hearing,” Lizza writes, “a senior White House official told me, ‘You’ll see the setting of the predicate. That’s the thing to watch today.” The predicate, Lizza writes, was incidental collection. “The White House clearly indicated to me that it knew Nunes would highlight this issue,” Lizza writes, adding that he was told, “It’s backdoor surveillance where it’s not just incidental, it’s systematic. Watch Nunes today.”

March 20, 10 a.m. The hearing begins. There don’t appear to have been any documents submitted by the president.

Nunes’s second question addresses the issue of incidental collection of intelligence.

Were the communications of officials or associates of any campaign subject to any kind of improper surveillance? The Intelligence Community has extremely strict procedures for handling information pertaining to any U.S. citizens who are subject even to incidental surveillance, and this Committee wants to ensure all surveillance activities have followed all relevant laws, rules, and regulations. Let me be clear: we know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.

Nunes also encouraged “anyone who has information about these topics to come forward and speak to the Committee.”

Tuesday, March 21, afternoon or evening. According to the Daily Beast, Nunes and a staffer are traveling in an Uber when Nunes gets a “communication on his phone” — an email or text message, presumably — and the congressman suddenly exits the car. The precise timing on this isn’t clear; in later interviews, Nunes says that it was still daylight. It’s also not clear where exactly he got out of the car.

What is now clear is where he went: The Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the grounds of the White House.

To gain access to the building, Nunes would need to have been cleared by a White House staffer. It’s not clear who that was; on Wednesday, press secretary Sean Spicer said he is looking into who it may have been — something that those familiar with the process suggest should only take a few moments of effort. It’s also not clear with whom Nunes met,although he described his source for the information to Bloomberg‘s Eli Lake as an “intelligence official” and not a White House staffer.

Nunes was there, he says, to view sensitive information in a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF — a room that offers special protections against electronic or other forms of surveillance. In total, he said he saw “dozens” of reports.

He was doing so within the White House grounds, he said, because the information he was viewing was coming from the executive branch; namely, it seems, an intelligence agency. While there is an SCIF available to the House Intelligence Committee, it’s part of the legislative branch and, Nunes says, therefore wasn’t a place where the documents could be reviewed. “[T]he source could not simply put the documents in a backpack and walk them over to the House Intelligence Committee space,” a spokesman for Nunes told the Huffington Post.

Wednesday, March 22. Nunes first offered a brief statement to reporters on Capitol Hill before heading to the White House and briefing Trump on what he’d learned.

I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Details about persons associated with the incoming administration — details with little apparent foreign intelligence value — were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team.

After meeting with Trump, he answered questions from the White House driveway. Asked why he told the possible target of his investigation about information potentially related to that investigation, Nunes reiterated that what he’d seen was unrelated to Russia. “The president needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there, and I have a duty to tell him that,” Nunes said. He indicated that the information he’d seen may have come from confidential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, which, if true, may open him up to an ethics probe.

Nunes’s Democratic colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee expressed their anger at Trump being informed before they were. For his part, Trump said that he felt “somewhat” vindicated by what Nunes had told him.

Thursday, March 23. Answering a question during his daily news briefing, Spicer says that it “doesn’t really seem to make a ton of sense” that Nunes would have gotten information from the administration on Tuesday and come back on Wednesday to share it with the president. “I don’t know why he would come up to brief the president on something that we gave him,” Spicer said.

Monday, March 27. Spicer changes his tune.

“Can you say factually, absolutely flatly, that it is not possible that Chairman Nunes came to brief the president on something that he obtained from the White House or the administration?” a reporter asks.

“I can’t say 100 percent that I know anything what he briefed him on,” Spicer replied. “What I can tell you through his public comments is that he has said that he had multiple sources that he came to a conclusion on. So to the degree to which any of those sources weighed on the ultimate outcome of what he came to a decision on, I don’t know. And that’s something that, frankly, I don’t even know that he discussed with the president.”

“So it’s possible?” the reporter asked. “As far as you know right now, it’s possible?”

“Anything is possible,” Spicer said.

Tuesday, March 28. After nearly a week during which most of the timeline above is revealed — and after scheduled Intelligence Committee hearings are canceled — Nunes says that he would “never” tell his colleagues on the committee who his source was.

House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes DOES NOT recuse himself from Russia probe

March 29, 2017

Democrats like Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi are calling for the recusal of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes over possible coordination with the Trump administration.

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Devin Nunes, besieged by Democrats demanding he recuse himself or step down as leader of the investigation of Russian meddling in last year’s presidential campaign, said Tuesday that his GOP colleagues “are perfectly fine” with him remaining chairman of the House intelligence committee.

“Why would I not?” said Nunes when asked whether he would remain chairman as a scrum of reporters followed him through the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday morning.

Nunes, a California Republican, also defended his decision to postpone Tuesday’s scheduled hearing with former Obama national security officials, saying that, until FBI Director James Comey comes in for a closed session with the committee, it would be “hard to move forward” with other evidence.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said it would be “very difficult” to carry out a credible investigation without the chairman recusing himself in light of confirmed reports that Nunes looked at documents at the White House that he says showed proof that Trump campaign officials were caught up in “incidental” surveillance by intelligence agencies during the transition.

The No. 2 Democrat in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said Nunes had forfeited his ability to lead an investigation and called for creation of a special commission.

Told press @DevinNunes disqualified himself from presiding over House Intelligence Cmte investigation. We need an independent commission.

President Trump has said he feels “somewhat vindicated” by Nunes’ evidence of surveillance. Trump tweeted on March 4 that President Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower, which Comey and others have said is not accurate.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA drector John Brennan and former acting attorney general Sally Yates were scheduled to testify in an open session Tuesday until Nunes announced Friday that the hearing would be postponed.

 

Clapper was the first national security official to say Trump’s wiretap allegation had no basis in fact and could have been expected to say so at the hearing. Yates informed White House counsel Don McGahn that former national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled Vice President Pence about his conversations during the transition with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Yates was fired by Trump after she told U.S. attorneys around the nation not to defend the president’s first travel ban that restricted the entry of residents from seven mostly Muslim nations.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., was asked about Nunes at a meeting Tuesday morning after he met with the House Republican conference.

“Should Devin Nunes recuse himself from Russia investigation and do you know the source” of his information, he was asked. Said Ryan: “No and no.”

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/28/devin-nunes-under-pressure-recuse-himself-trump-campaign-probe/99727372/