WATCH: Susan Rice insists “I leaked nothing to nobody” https://t.co/kAsbu4VJDN
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017
In the latest instance of Donald Trump’s groundless wiretapping claims mutating into another story, Fox News and Bloomberg reported that former national security advisor Susan Rice had asked the intelligence community to reveal, or “unmask,” the names of members of the Trump transition team found in classified reports about foreign citizens. The story led to an exasperated Don Lemon refusing to “aid and abet” any outlets who wished to fuel this “diversion.” In unrelated news, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted that Mike Cernovich, avowed #Pizzagate conspiracy theorist, should be awarded the Pulitzer “for breaking the Susan Rice story.”
Rice herself appeared on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports Tuesday to express her “shock” at Trump’s month-old, unverified wiretapping claims as well as to deny the reports that she unmasked Americans for political reasons (in addition to adding some context while talking around classified topics). In the above clip (and we’ve posted a the full interview below), Rice stated that she “leaked nothing to nobody.” She also added that it was possible that Trump associates were swept up in “incidental” surveillance, but none of this was for “political purposes.”
Rice goes on to explain that when a name is unmasked in a report, that name is only given to the requestor, not some larger group in the government. “There is no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking,” she said. As to how Rice got into this situation to begin with: it was all part of her (as well as the Secretary of Defense and CIA director’s, to name two) day-to-day:
“There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a US person was referred to. Name not provided, just a US person. 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 the US official was. The intelligence community made the determination as to whether or not the identity of that American individual could be provided to me.”
When asked about specific people who were unmasked (perhaps including Mike Flynn), Rice told Mitchell that it would be “wrong” to discuss specifics because the names would have come from classified intelligence reports.
You can watch Rice’s full interview below with more “unmasking” discussion to follow.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that unmasking a name allows you to understand the significance of the communication, and that his committee often reviews how the intelligence community is handling masking and unmasking names. He concluded, “Some incidental collection is unavoidable, and as long as proper procedures are being followed, it is fully lawful. It does not constitute either wiretapping or surveillance of Americans.”