Senate Judiciary Committee honing in on Obama ‘unmasking’ operatives

(National SentinelCorruption: During a closed hearing on Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will attempt to get a few steps closer to fully understanding the Obama administration’s potential criminal “unmasking” of then-GOP presidential nominee and President-elect Donald J. Trump’s campaign and transition team.

As reported by the Washington Times, the panel will push for additional facts about the alleged unmasking which is serving as a counter-narrative to ongoing FBI and congressional investigations into insinuations that Team Trump had a nefarious relationship with Russia:

Former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice, in addition to other top officials from the Obama administration, have come under suspicion during recent months amid accusations that they inappropriately “unmasked” requests to identify Trump associates caught up in clandestine surveillance of Russian operatives prior to and during the immediate aftermath of the November election.

While Republican lawmakers have during recent months led the charge for a deeper investigation into the unmasking allegations, it was a key Democrat on the Judiciary Committee who raised the issue during a public committee hearing on Tuesday, asserting that lawmakers hope to explore it more deeply with FBI officials during a secret hearing slated for Wednesday.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, warned the FBI’s National Security Branch Executive Assistant Director, Carl Ghattas, that he specifically wants answers during Wednesday’s closed-door hearing about President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who resigned over contacts with Russia.

“There is a specific allegation that has been floating around that the conversations between Michael Flynn and [Russian] Ambassador Kislyak came into the White House with Flynn masked,” Whitehouse told his fellow committee members. “And that a decision was made in the Obama White House to unmask him — which then led to leaks to the newspapers, and so forth.”

Flynn, a retired three-star Army general, once served as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency under Obama. Ghattas serves as head of the FBI’s operations and intelligence efforts involving all national security matters.

Whitehouse says the panel needs a timeline of events and noted that if political motivations were behind Flynn’s unmasking and subsequent leaks to the media, “I think we can all agree that … is not a good thing.”

The Times noted further:

In March, Ms. Rice admitted to requesting the unmasking of the names of some Americans redacted in raw intelligence reports on the U.S. surveillance intercepts, but argued that the requests were well within her job duties as national security adviser and were in no way driven by political motivations to know which figures from the Trump campaign were being discussed.

In fact, Rice - as Obama’s national security advisor - was not a career intelligence operative but rather a political appointee, a functionary whose primary duties were to serve the president and his objectives. So there’s that.

But we may never know the truth, at least not in the short term. Rice’s records have all been transferred to the new Obama presidential library, where - by law - they can remain hidden for at least five years.

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