A former U.S. attorney alleges that former security adviser Susan Rice demanded “detailed spreadsheets” of legal phone calls involving President Donald Trump and his associates during the 2016 presidential campaign.
As reported by Western Journalism, multiple media sources have identified Rice as the source within the Obama administration who took a lead role in the surveillance of Trump’s associates. Rice has offered no public response to the claims.
Surveillance of Trump has become a major controversy since March 4, when Trump tweeted that Obama “wiretapped” him prior to the election. Although Obama and officials within his administration issued a bevy of denials in response to Trump’s claim, recent media accounts have indicated that surveillance was conducted that involved members of Trump’s team.
Fox News reported Monday that the names of those caught up in surveillance operations were sent to a wide array of officials including the entire the National Security Council, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper then-CIA Director John Brennan and former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes. Rhodes was among the first to deny Trump’s wiretapping claim.
“What was produced by the intelligence community at the request of Ms. Rice were detailed spreadsheets of intercepted phone calls with unmasked Trump associates in perfectly legal conversations with individuals,” Joseph diGenova, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia under President Ronald Reagan told The Daily Caller on Monday.
“The overheard conversations involved no illegal activity by anybody of the Trump associates, or anyone they were speaking with,” diGenova said. “In short, the only apparent illegal activity was the unmasking of the people in the calls.”
“This was a crime,” he added in an interview with Lifezette. “They targeted people for unmasking, not intelligence.”
The details that have emerged, if proven true, would indicate that the operation to conduct surveillance on Trump was a complex, coordinated effort, said Col. (Ret.) James Waurishuk, former deputy director for intelligence at the U.S. Central Command.
“The surveillance initially is the responsibility of the National Security Agency,” Waurishuk told The Daily Caller. “They have to abide by this guidance when one of the other agencies says, ‘we’re looking at this particular person which we would like to unmask.’”
“The lawyers and counsel at the NSA surely would be talking to the lawyers and members of counsel at CIA, or at the National Security Council or at the Director of National Intelligence or at the FBI,” he added. “It’s unbelievable of the level and degree of the administration to look for information on Donald Trump and his associates, his campaign team and his transition team. This is really, really serious stuff.”
The political use of information collected through surveillance worried Waurishuk.
“This is now using national intelligence assets and capabilities to spy on the elected, yet-to-be-seated president. We’re looking at a potential constitutional crisis from the standpoint that we used an extremely strong capability that’s supposed to be used to safeguard and protect the country,” he said. “And we used it for political purposes by a sitting president. That takes on a new precedent.”
The incident shows that rules separating the collection of sensitive information and the use of it have been shattered, said Michael Doran, a former NSC senior director.
“[S]omebody blew a hole in the wall between national security secrets and partisan politics,” he said, saying that the surveillance “was a stream of information that was supposed to be hermetically sealed from politics and the Obama administration found a way to blow a hole in that wall.”
“[T]his is a leaking of signal intelligence. That’s a felony,” he added. “And you can get 10 years for that. It is a tremendous abuse of the system. We’re not supposed to be monitoring American citizens. Bigger than the crime, is the breach of public trust.”
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