Obama aide denies using intel to spy on Trump advisers

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But government documents, released following a Judicial Watch lawsuit, reveal that government officials monitoring the attack in real-time did not cite an anti-Islam video as an explanation for the paramilitary attack on the USA diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

To Trump backers, the revelations are evidence that the Obama administration was surveilling the incoming administration for political purposes, though it remains unclear what activity might have required the alleged unmasking.

The focus has instead recently shifted to the issue of "unmasking", namely the circumstances in which a US person's identity is revealed to the government officials reviewing the intelligence reports. She also stated she did not leak Mike Flynn's name, and did not know he was in service to the Turkish government.

'Masking and unmasking in this context are the set of rules governing how agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation or NSA will treat the information of a USA citizen if they come across said citizen in the course of surveilling a foreign adversary, and only a foreign adversary.

And in yet another appearance, Sciutto also setup something of a strawman, arguing that the unmasking story is not important because "unmasking is not leaking".

The story, which cites former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova as its source, claims Rice asked U.S. spy agencies to produce "detailed spreadsheets" of phone calls involving Trump and his aides during the campaign.

Yet, Rice did acknowledge that sometimes after receiving "masked" reports, it would be necessary to find out the identity of the American citizen in order to make the report more useful.

More news: Susan Rice asked that names of Trump transition officials be 'unmasked'

Rice had previously denied knowing about Nunes's allegations.

But, even if that was the case, it would not validate the claim that Trump made that he was wiretapped by Obama. Even Republicans who have been critical of White House efforts to muddy the Russian Federation investigations have said it is imperative to get to the bottom of her handling of Trump-related intelligence. "Lets say there was a conversation between two foreigners, about a conversation they were having with an American, who was proposing to sell to them high-tech bomb making equipment".

Cotton, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, added that he's "never asked for an unmasked name". At most, she could request that the identities be unmasked, and NSA could either approve or deny the request.

"I leaked nothing to nobody, never had, never would", she said. "I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today".

That comes back to me, not to anybody broadly in the national security world, and that is necessary for me to do my job. In order to protect the privacy rights of those USA persons, the government has imposed procedures for "minimizing" or "masking" those persons' identities. And the fact is that this latest unmasking episode is a smokescreen to distract from the broader issue - which is that the President of the United States made a completely unfounded and very serious allegation against his immediate predecessor.

McCAIN: "I think the circumstances indicate that there's a possibility that that request could have been politically motivated".