September 21, 2017

ELI LAKE: What We Still Don’t Know About Obama-Era ‘Unmasking.’

Unmasking Kushner, Bannon and Flynn in that meeting is not in and of itself evidence of political spying. It does not support Trump’s claim that Obama had tapped Trump Tower. It doesn’t rise to the level of a scandal. What’s more, Republicans like Representative Trey Gowdy have praised Rice for her openness this month in her closed-session testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, and reiterated a point made by that committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes, that Rice did not violate the law by requesting that some U.S. persons in intelligence reports be unmasked. Rice, according to sources familiar with her testimony, reiterated that she never leaked the information she unmasked.

Gowdy is still trying to get answers. He told me Monday, “The issues are serious enough to warrant an open-minded, objective review, but we don’t have all the information necessary to draw to a conclusion.”

That’s important. Gowdy says he still has not received exact numbers on how many times Rice or other senior Obama officials made requests to unmask U.S. citizens in intelligence reports. He said he doesn’t yet have enough information to determine whether the volume of requests or their dissemination within the intelligence community were unusual. His committee has learned that Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, also made a number of unmasking requests in her final year in office. Was that unusual or part of her job? Why did she need this information?

Keep digging.

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