Former White House National Security official Susan Rice did not take part in any inappropriate action, despite allegations that she tried to “unmask” individuals linked to President Trump who were caught on intelligence surveillance in a spy sweep in the period following the 2016 election.
Both Republican and Democratic officials told NBC News that a review of intelligence materials that Rice did nothing wrong in looking over the surveillance while she was in the position under President Obama. “I saw no evidence of any wrongdoing,” said a U.S. official who reviewed the documents, but whom NBC did not identify. “It was all completely normal.”
The material in question was brought up earlier this month by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who has recused himself from the House committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, the Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating allegations that that he disclosed classified information when he brought the unmasking issue up.
In an interview, Rice told NBC News that the accusations that her role as National Security Adviser gave her the ability to request the names of those individuals, which would typically be redacted in intelligence reports for national security reasons. Government officials, she said, received communications from the global intelligence community on a daily basis. At times, an American, whose name was not provided, would be referred to in the information.
“Sometime in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or to request the information as to who that U.S. official was,” Rice explained.
National security officials have said it is routine for someone in the position Rice was in to request the identities of the Americans whose names were mentioned in such intelligence reports.
President Trump at the time said he thought Rice broke the law. “I think it’s going to be the biggest story,” Trump said. “It’s such an important story for our country and the world.”