Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice on Tuesday flatly denied that she sought to improperly “unmask” Trump campaign officials whose conversations were caught on surveillance by U.S. intelligence services.
“The allegation is that somehow the Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, ” Rice said in an exclusive interview with NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell. “That’s absolutely false.”
Rice added that it is not unusual to request the identities of people caught on intelligence surveillance. “There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to, name not provided, just a U.S. person, and sometimes in that context in order to understand the importance of that report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or request the information as to who that U.S. official was,” she said, without going into specifics.
For example, she said, “if two foreigners were having a conversation” about a possible bombing with an American, they would want to know if that person “was some kook” or a legitimate threat. “It was not uncommon, it was necessary at times to make those requests,” she said. “I don’t have a particular recollection of doing that more frequently after the election.”
Rice also batted away reports that she allegedly had a “spreadsheet” of telephone calls made by Trump campaign officials. “There was no spreadsheet,” she said. “There was nothing of the sort.”