Obama Officials Subpoenaed in Unmasking Probe
“The behavior of Nunes … is beneath the dignity of being a chairman of the Intelligence Committee”.
Trump has been trying to manufacture a scandal surrounding the Obama administration’s “unmasking”, or revealing identities of US citizens in intelligence reports, since early March, when he went on a tweetstorm recklessly accusing Obama of wiretapping him.
Four current and former USA officials who have reviewed the materials told Reuters there was no evidence that political motives drove Obama’s aides to request the names be unredacted.
A GOP aide emphasized this divide to the Wall Street Journal, saying that “the unmasking investigation was now considered separate from the Russian Federation probe, allowing Mr. Nunes to act on his own”.
Representative Jim Himes, a Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, replied to Trump’s tweet, calling it a “pathetic distraction”.
Nunes hasn’t “fully honored” his commitment not to be involved in the investigation, Schiff said.
“Unmasking” refers to the process of an intelligence agency revealing – per a request by a consumer of the intelligence – the identity of an American “incidentally” caught up in surveillance of a foreign target.
Their identities are supposed to be “masked” or hidden in collection reports, unless an official requests that it be “unmasked” or revealed in order to understand the intelligence.
Controversy erupted again this week after the Republican head of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, approved subpoenas to the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency for information relating to the “unmasking” of the names of Trump campaign advisers inadvertently picked up in top-secret foreign communications intercepts.
Lawmakers are likely to ask Comey about his interactions with Trump as the bureau pursued its investigation into his campaign’s contacts.
The dual investigations of President Trump’s White House-both Congress and the DoJ are investigating him-are continuing to gear up.
In March, Nunes came under fire for reportedly sharing confidential details, including information on Trump’s associates and their alleged ties to Russian Federation, with a source at the White House grounds.
Also Wednesday, a Justice Department official confirmed that Mueller had named a top Justice Department official to his team.
In early April and after weeks of pressure from Democrats, House Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes announced he would step away from leading his committee’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
He said there has been no evidence put forward on Trump-Russia collusion after seven months of investigations.
The news comes at an awkward time for Trump and Nunes, who have accused the Obama administration of using the same practice, called “unmasking”, to spy on Republican political campaigns. Those requests are not automatically granted, but examined and granted or not by intelligence officials.