On March 4, President Trump sent out a tweet accusing former President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower in New York.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
A bombshell report from Bloomberg politics on Monday states that White House lawyers became aware last month that Susan Rice, the former national security adviser to Obama, was the individual that requested the identities of U.S. persons pertaining to the Trump campaign.
As reported by Bloomberg:
The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”
Bloomberg reports that two U.S. officials spoke to them on the condition on anonymity, where they admitted that the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, oversaw the review of Trump associates involved with the Trump campaign and transition.
In February, Cohen-Watnick first became aware that Rice attempted to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports on multiple occasions that related to Trump’s team.
After he became aware of what was going on, Cohen-Watnick then spoke with the White House General Counsel’s office on what was happening. Bloomberg reports that the General Counsel’s Office told him to “end his own research into the unmasking policy.”
The Bloomberg report continues:
The intelligence reports were summaries of monitored conversations — primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials. One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.
Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning. Her role in requesting the identities of Trump transition officials adds an important element to the dueling investigations surrounding the Trump White House since the president’s inauguration.
Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are probing any ties between Trump associates and a Russian influence operation against Hillary Clinton during the election. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Representative Devin Nunes, is also investigating how the Obama White House kept tabs on the Trump transition after the election through unmasking the names of Trump associates incidentally collected in government eavesdropping of foreign officials.
Last month on “PBS NewsHour,” Rice was asked about the reports from the Trump administration about the wire tapping accusations and incidental collections.
Rice said: “I know nothing about this,” adding, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”
If the reports are accurate and Rice did request to unmask the names of Trump transition officials, that doesn’t mean Trump’s allegations are 100 percent proven, either.
The report could also explain what Nunes saw at the White House two weeks ago that prompted him to reveal the reports he viewed “very concerning information.”
While many questions are still unanswered, the latest report does add more confirmation to the fact the Trump’s assertion could be true.