The House Intelligence Committee has issued subpoenas for information regarding unmasking requests made by former national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power.
The subpoenas were sent to the National Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency requesting information about how and why intelligence community intercepts of those close to the Donald Trump campaign were unmasked and ultimately leaked to the press.
Normally, the identities of US citizens who are not the targets, but sometimes get caught in the government spying, are redacted to protect their privacy. The process of “unmasking” the identities of people whose conversations were intercepted can only be requested by a select few within the intelligence community.
In March, White House lawyers learned that Rice was behind unmasking names of people within the Trump team, such as General Mike Flynn, whose conversation with a Russian ambassador was later leaked to the media.
Appearing on “PBS NewsHour” in March, Rice was asked about Trump and his team being caught up in incidental intelligence collection, and she denied having any knowledge of it happening.
“I know nothing about this,” Rice said. “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”
After it was revealed that she was personally behind the unmasking of Flynn, Rice claimed in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the Obama administration did not abuse intelligence surveillance for political purposes.
“The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes,” Rice asserted. “That’s absolutely false. Let me explain how this works. I was the national security adviser. My job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. That’s the same as the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, the CIA director.”
Rice also denied being behind the leaking of unmasked phone conversations to the media. The former national security advisor is married to ABC News Executive Producer Ian Cameron.
“I leaked nothing to nobody,” Rice said, laughing, “and never have and never would.”
Following the interview, White House Director of Social Media Dan Scavino tweeted, “lyin’, leakin’ Susan Rice stammered through her soft ball interview with Dem PR person Andrea Mitchell.”
Lyin', leakin' Susan Rice stammered through her soft ball interview with Dem PR person Andrea Mitchell.
— Dan Scavino (@DanScavino) April 4, 2017
In May, Rice rejected an invitation to testify before the Senate committee on Russian interference — which Trump referred to as “not good!”
“Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor to President Obama, is refusing to testify before a Senate subcommittee next week on allegations of unmasking Trump transition officials. Not good!” Trump tweeted.
Rice, Power, and Brennan were not personally subpoenaed by the committee.
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House Republicans Hoping to Get Americans Back to Work By End of April
It’s a aspiration, not a plan.
House Republicans are considering plans that would help Americans get back to work by the end of the month. Kevin Brady of Texas told reporters on a conference call that the caucus is preparing preliminary plans that phase the workforce back in at the end of April.
“Our focus is on locking down the virus while we’re taking the steps now to prepare to reopen the economy by the end of the month if the virus permits.”
Brady was careful to qualify that there’s no guarantee the public health situation in the United States would allow such a development.
“I think we should all expect the jobs, the unemployment in the GDP numbers to feel brutal over the short term. It’s because they are. This economy is taking hits like we’ve not seen in most of our lifetimes. But it is just a short-term hit.”
Initial social distancing guidelines set forth by the White House in conjunction with the CDC were extended from two weeks to April 30th earlier in the week, suggesting the executive branch may be cautiously looking towards the end of April to begin phasing out the unprecedented disruptions to everyday American life.
It is worth noting that an early cease to social distancing and commonsense measures to deter the spread of the Chinese coronavirus could prove to be even more harmful than the negative impacts to the economy since the beginning of the virus-related recession. This can’t be rushed. But the consequences of the economic damage are real, and all Americans should look to get everyday economic life up and running against as soon as possible.
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