Posted tagged ‘Susan Rice’

The Death Rattle of Obama’s Reputation

December 23, 2017

The Death Rattle of Obama’s Reputation, Commentary Magazine, December 22, 2017

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

The members of Barack Obama’s administration in exile have become conspicuously noisy of late—even more so than usual. Former CIA Director John Brennan accused Donald Trump and his administration of engaging in “outrageous,” “narcissistic” behavior typical of “vengeful autocrats” by threatening proportionate retaliation against countries that voted to condemn the United States in the United Nations, as though that were unprecedented. It is not. James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, all but alleged that the president is a Russian “asset.” Perhaps the most acerbic and incendiary series of accusations from the former Democratic president’s foreign-policy professionals were placed in the New York Times by Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice. In her estimation, America has abdicated its role as a “force for good.”

It’s no coincidence that these overheated condemnations accompany abundant evidence that the Trump administration is finding its legs. As the last administration’s undeserved reputation as sober-minded foreign policy rationalists is dismantled one retrospective report at a time, its jilted members are lashing out.

Rice’s attacks on the Republican administration deserve the most attention, if only because they are the most apoplectic. Donald Trump’s recently released national-security review paints a “dark,” “almost dystopian” vision of the world, Rice contended. His world is full of “hostile states and lurking threats.” Rice claimed that there is “no common good” in Trump’s worldview. What’s more, there is no “international community” and no “universal values.” There are just “American values.”

Rice takes a theatrically dim view of what is essentially a restatement of the bedrock principle of almost all international-relations theory: The international environment is anarchic. There is no “international community,” because there is no enforceable “international law.” To the extent that such a thing exists, it is dependent upon the willingness of nation states to subordinate their sovereignty to international institutions. There’s no mechanism to make them do this, save for the threat of force. The recognition that nation states exist in a state of perpetual competition is not some grim surrender to the darkest of human impulses. It is reality, the acknowledgment of which only conveys to other nations firm parameters in which they can operate without accidentally triggering a conflict with another sovereign power.

Rice acknowledges that Moscow is a threat to regional stability and peace, “Western values,” and U.S. sovereignty. She implies that Trump is a menace because he declines to recognize that. In fact, it was Obama much more so than Trump who has failed to see the obvious.

Barack Obama was inarguably the least Atlanticist president since the end of World War II. Within a year of Russia’s brazen invasion and dismemberment of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, Obama scrapped George W. Bush-era agreements to move radar and missile interceptor installations to Central Europe. In 2013, the last of America’s armored combat units left Europe, ending a 69-year footprint on the Continent. By 2014, there were just two U.S. Army brigades stationed in Europe. The folly of this demobilization became abundantly clear when Vladimir Putin became the first Russian leader since Stalin to invade and annex territory in neighboring Ukraine.

A year later, Putin intervened militarily in Syria, where U.S. forces were already operating, resulting in the most dangerous escalation of tensions between the two nuclear powers since the end of the Cold War. Putin’s move in Syria should not have come as a surprise; Barack Obama outsourced the resolution of the Syrian conflict to Moscow in 2013, if only to avoid making good on his self-set “red line” for intervention in that conflict despite the norm-shattering use of WMDs on civilians. Even Rice’s chief complaint about Trump, his failure to condemn Putin’s brazen intervention in the 2016 election, didn’t elicit a reaction from Barack Obama until the final month of his presidency.

By contrast, and to the surprise of just about everyone, the Trump administration has been tough on Russia. Trump has ordered harsh sanctions on Moscow’s Iranian allies for violating United Nations resolutions—a course the Obama administration declined to take even if it allowed Hezbollah terrorists with direct links to Putin to operate with impunity. He ordered long overdue airstrikes on Putin’s vassal regime in Syria, halting any further use of chemical weapons in the process. Trump not only declined to lift Obama-era sanctions on Moscow, as many feared he would, but expanded them. This administration closed Russian consulates and annexes in the United States. It has targeted Putin allies like Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov under the Magnitsky Act—the same act that Kremlin cutout Natalia Veselnitskaya lobbied the Trump campaign to scuttle. Trump has even gone so far as to open U.S. arms sales to Ukraine, representing a significant blow to Putin’s ambitions in Europe. It is without a doubt that Trump now has a stronger record on Russia than Barack Obama ever did. No wonder Susan Rice is so angry.

Rice further alleged that Trump recklessly accused China of being an “avowed opponent” of the U.S. rather than just a competitor, and then insisted that China has not “illegally occupied its neighbors.” Tell that to Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, or Taiwan, each of which lay claim to strategic territory in the South China Sea that the People’s Republic seized and turned into forward air and naval bases. Rice suggested that Trump’s “realists” decided to “lump” Beijing in with Moscow, not because it is a rising military and economic power, but because they wanted to “placate” American nationalists. Though this White House declined to defibrillate the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement back to life when it inherited its corpse, it has done a far more comprehensive job of working with Beijing to isolate Pyongyang than Obama did. As the North Korean nuclear crisis intensifies, China has backed fresh sanctions on North Korean financial institutions, cut off all access to Chinese iron, lead, and coal, and may even scale back petroleum deliveries to the Stalinist state by as much as 90 percent. And all in the space of one year.

Rice bemoaned the fact that Trump’s national security document contained no nods to America’s core ideological principles, such as democracy promotion and human rights. Except it does. The strategy review did declare perfunctory fealty to the idea that America cannot “impose its values” on others, but it criticized nations like China and Russia for making their economies “less free and less fair” and for censoring information “to repress their societies.” It professed America’s intention to oppose “rival actors” who “use propaganda and other matters to discredit democracy.” The document added that this administration intends to “support the dignity of individuals” who “live under oppressive regimes and who seek freedom” and “rule of law.” The U.S. will use “every tool” to “isolate states and leaders who threaten our interests and whose actions run contrary to our values,” including “repressive regimes and human rights abusers.” After all, Dr. Rice, America values are universal values.

Rice contended that the document failed to itemize the discrete identities on whose behalf the U.S. should labor: LGBT people, people in poverty, people with AIDS, people under 30, et cetera. Rather, the document insists that all mankind, regardless of conditions or accidents of birth, are objects of U.S. interest. Rice complained that climate change is no longer viewed as a threat to national security. Good. Climate change is not itself a threat to American national security but a threat multiplier, as the weather has always been. Save for some valid concerns about the prospect of an overly restrictive immigration policy and the precariousness of U.S. free-trade obligations, Rice painted a picture not of a radical administration but one that is returning to a familiar status quo ante. In nearly all respects, it was Obama’s White House, not Trump’s, that adopted an ideological foreign policy and rendered the U.S. and the world less safe as a result.

Even as early as March of 2017, it was clear that the Obama administration’s foreign-policy professionals were quite insecure about how posterity would remember their stewardship of American interests abroad. They had every reason to be. For now, at least, the Trump administration has declined to govern as Trump campaigned; not as a populist firebrand but a conventional Republican. Susan Rice and her former White House colleagues have every reason to worry, but not for the United States. Their reputations, however, are another matter entirely.

Susan Rice Urges Donald Trump to ‘Tolerate Nuclear Weapons in North Korea’

August 10, 2017

Susan Rice Urges Donald Trump to ‘Tolerate Nuclear Weapons in North Korea’, BreitbartCharlie Spiering, August 10, 2017

Associated Press

Former President Barack Obama’s National Security adviser, Susan Rice, wants President Donald Trump to accept North Korea as a nuclear power.

“History shows that we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea — the same way we tolerated the far greater threat of thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons during the Cold War,” she wrote in a New York Times op-ed, criticizing the president’s “fire and fury” rhetoric in response to the escalating tensions between the two countries.

Rice urged Gen. John Kelly, White House chief of staff, to stop Trump, and she pointedly attacked Dr. Sebastian Gorka, the deputy assistant to the president.

“John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, must assert control over the White House, including his boss, and curb the Trump surrogates whipping up Cuban missile crisis fears,” she wrote.

Rice complained that Trump’s rhetoric was “unprecedented and especially dangerous” and that America would have to be cautious about its response to Pyongyang.

She defended Obama’s actions in response to North Korea, insisting that his administration put them “on edge” by conducting joint military exercises with South Korea and introducing more economic sanctions.

She urged Trump to continue the Obama doctrine on North Korea despite growing hostility from the country.

“Rational, steady American leadership can avoid a crisis and counter a growing North Korean threat,” Rice wrote. “It’s past time that the United States started exercising its power responsibly.”

A letter from H.R. McMaster said Susan Rice will keep her top-secret security clearance

August 3, 2017

A letter from H.R. McMaster said Susan Rice will keep her top-secret security clearance, CircaSara A. Carter, August 3, 2017

Almost one month after it was disclosed that former President Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice was unmasking members of President Trump’s team and other Americans, Trump’s own national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, sent an official letter giving her unfettered and continuing access to classified information and waiving her “need-to-know” requirement on anything she viewed or received during her tenure, Circa has confirmed.

The undated and unclassified letter from McMaster was sent in the mail to Rice’s home during the last week of April. Trump was not aware of the letter or McMaster’s decision, according to two Senior West Wing officials and an intelligence official, who spoke to Circa on condition that they not be named.

This is the letter from McMaster to Rice. Names, phone numbers and personal addresses have been blurred.

“I hereby waive the requirement that you must have a ‘need-to-know’ to access any classified information contained in items you ‘originated, reviewed, signed or received while serving,’ as National Security Adviser,” the letter said. The letter also states that the “NSC will continue to work with you to ensure the appropriate security clearance documentation remains on file to allow you access to classified information.”

Circa revealed in March that during President Obama’s tenure, top aides — including Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch — routinely reviewed intelligence reports received from the National Security Agency’s incidental intercepts of Americans abroad. They were doing so by taking advantage of rules Obama relaxed starting in 2011 to help the government better fight terrorism, espionage by foreign enemies and hacking threats, according to documents obtained by Circa.

In June, the House Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Rice as part of the committee’s larger investigation into the unmasking of Americans under the Obama administration. Rice maintains that she never accessed the information inappropriately and has agreed to testify before the committee.

Under the law, and under certain conditions, it is common practice for some senior government officials to be given the unfettered access to classified information, and their “need to know” is waived under “Executive Order 13526 Section 4.4 Access by Historical Researchers and Certain Former Government Personnel.” But the White House officials told Circa that under the current congressional investigation, and given President Trump’s ongoing concern that members of his team were unmasked, Rice’s clearance should have been limited to congressional testimony only or revoked until the end of the investigation. Rice and Brennan have confirmed they sought the unredacted names of Americans in NSA-sourced intelligence reports, but insisted their requests were routine parts of their work and that they did nothing improper. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power also has legal authority to unmask officials.

In a June tweet, Trump called the revelation that Rice and other Obama senior officials were unmasking members of his team the “big story… the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ that took place during the Obama administration.”

“Basically, this letter which was signed in the last week of April undercuts the president’s assertion that Susan Rice’s unmasking activity was inappropriate. In essence, anybody who committed a violation as she did would not be given access to classified information,” said a senior West Wing official, who was shown the document by Circa and verified its authenticity. “In fact, they would have their security clearance and right to ‘need-to-know’ stripped.”

“The point is, is that it lowers the bar for her,” the Senior West Wing official said.

“This memo McMaster sent to Rice makes it so that she doesn’t have to prove a continuing ‘need-to-know’ to have access to classified information and in effect is a White House pardon of Susan Rice and could be used by other Obama officials who conducted targeted unmasking of the campaign as a defense,” the official added.

The White House has not responded to requests for comment.

An intelligence official told Circa “that the NSA decision to provide this level of access to the subject of several ongoing investigations and to waive her ‘need-to-know’ requirement raises serious legal, moral and ethical concerns.”

According to information obtained by Circa, dozens of times in 2016, those intelligence reports identified Americans who were directly intercepted talking to foreign sources or who were the subject of conversations between two or more monitored foreign figures.

Sometimes Americans’ names were officially unmasked; other times they were so specifically described in the reports that their identities were readily discernible. Among those cleared to request and consume unmasked NSA-based intelligence reports about U.S. citizens were Rice, his Brennan and Lynch.

Shortly after Circa released the redacted documents disclosing the change in rules, it was revealed that Power had also extensively requested permission to unmask American names in incidental foreign intercepts.

Fmr. U.N. Amb. Power Emerges As Central Figure In Obama Unmasking Investigation

July 19, 2017

Fmr. U.N. Amb. Power Emerges As Central Figure In Obama Unmasking Investigation, Washington Free Beacon, July 19, 2017

Samantha Power / Getty Images

Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power’s involvement in the unmasking by former Obama administration officials of sensitive national security information is raising red flags over what insiders view was an attempt by the former administration to undermine President Donald Trump and key figures on his team, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the situation.

Power appears to be central to efforts by top Obama administration officials to identify individuals named in classified intelligence community reports related to Trump and his presidential transition team, according to multiple sources.

The names of Trump allies in the raw intelligence reports were leaked to the press in what many in Congress and the current administration claim is an attempt by Obama allies and former officials to damage the White House.

The House Intelligence Committee, which is spearheading the investigation into these efforts, has issued subpoenas for Power and other top Obama administration figures, including former national security adviser Susan Rice, as part of congressional efforts to determine the source of these leaks.

Power’s role in this unmasking effort is believed to be particularly questionable given her position as a the U.N. ambassador, a post that does not typically require such sensitive unmasking activities, according to former U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the matter.

“Unmasking is not a regular occurrence—absolutely not a weekly habit. It is rare, even at the National Security Council, and ought to be rarer still for a U.N. ambassador,” according to one former senior U.S. official who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

“It might be defended when the communication in question relates directly to U.N. business, for example an important Security Council vote,” explained the former official, who would only discuss the matter on background. “Sometimes it might be done out of other motives than national security, such as sheer curiosity or to defend a bureaucratic position. Or just plain politics.”

The Intelligence Committee’s focus of Power and other key Obama officials is a prime example of the Obama administration’s efforts to spy on those close to Trump, according to sources familiar with the ongoing investigation.

“The subpoena for Power suggests just how pervasive the Obama administration’s spying on Americans actually was,” said one veteran GOP political operative who has been briefed on the matter by senior Congressional intelligence officials. “The U.N. ambassador has absolutely no business calling for the quantity and quality of the intelligence that Power seems to have been asking for.”

The source questioned why Power would need to uncover such classified intelligence information in her role at the U.N.

“That’s just not the sort of thing that she should have been concerned about, unless she was playing the role of political operative with the help of the intelligence community,” the source said. “It gives away what was actually going on: the Obama administration was operating in a pervasive culture of impunity and using the intelligence community against their political opponents.”

Rice was scheduled to speak to House Intelligence Committee this week, but the meeting was reportedly postponed. Some sources speculated this could be a delaying tactic by Rice aimed at pushing the testimony back until after Congress’s summer recess.

Leading members of Congress have begun pushing for the Intelligence Committee and other oversight bodies to investigate former Obama administration officials who they believe are responsible for the leaks.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Oversight Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, told the Free Beacon last week that these leaks appear to have come from former senior officials, potentially including Ben Rhodes, the Obama national security adviser responsible for creating what he described as an in-house “echo chamber” meant to mislead the public and Congress about the landmark Iran nuclear deal.

“I think Congress and some members on the Intelligence Committee can call Ben Rhodes to testify,” DeSantis said. “He may be able to invoke executive privilege from when Obama was president, but he definitely can’t do that in any interactions he’s had since then.”

DeSantis identified Rhodes and other senior Obama administration officials as being “involved with feeding journalists some of these [leaks]. I believe he’s in touch with people on the National Security Council. It would be absolutely legitimate as part of leak investigation to bring him in and put him under oath, and I would absolutely support doing that.”

Senior Trump administration officials also have decried the leaks, which have expanded to operational information and are now impeding U.S. national security operations.

The anonymous sources for these articles “are obviously the same Obama holdovers who constantly leak classified information” to various newspapers, one senior administration official told the Free Beacon earlier this month.

Judicial Watch: Options Exist to Obtain Susan Rice ‘Unmasking’ Requests

June 21, 2017

Judicial Watch: Options Exist to Obtain Susan Rice ‘Unmasking’ Requests, Newsmax, Brian Freeman, June 21, 2017

(Please see also, Susan Rice skates again. — DM)

Records concerning the unmasking of Trump campaign officials by former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice that have been sealed for five years at the Barack Obama Presidential Library can be obtained if Congress or special counsel Robert Mueller requests them, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” Wednesday.

The president could also obtain the material if it is deemed important to carry out his tasks, Fitton said.

“There are options to get these records and they need to be taken because there could be elements of the records in other agencies, but these are key White House records about what the White House was up to,” Fitton said. “And that seems to me as important as anything else.”

Fitton argued those record need to be obtained, so it can be determined if intelligence abuses by Susan Rice and others in the Obama White House actually occurred.

He added that it’s also important to figure out when the records were sent off to the presidential library.

“Did it happen during the Trump administration? Were they told about it? Was this a bureaucratic shell game?” Fitton said.

After reports emerged in April that Rice had requested to unveil the hidden names of Trump transition officials who were caught up in surveillance of foreign targets, Judicial Watch requested materials related to the issue.

But the group announced earlier this week that it received a letter from the National Security Council that the material had been sent to the Obama Library.

This means that they are sealed from the public for at least five years.

Susan Rice skates again

June 20, 2017

Susan Rice skates again, American ThinkerMonica Showalter, June 20, 2017

It’s pretty astonishing what President Obama’s Deep State Dead Enders will do to protect their self-claimed ‘right’ to break the law with impunity.

From Breitbart News:

The National Security Council cannot hand over records relating to former National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s surveillance of Americans, because they have been moved to the Obama presidential library and may be sealed for as may as five years, conservative watchdog Judicial Watch announced Monday.

The NSC informed Judicial Watch in a letter dated May 23 that materials related to Rice’s requests to know the identities of Americans swept up in surveillance of foreign targets, including any Trump campaign or transition officials, have been moved to the library.

That’s certainly convenient for Rice, whose role in illegally ‘unmasking’ Americans caught up in spy surveillance dragnets and then leaking what she learned for partisan political purposes is explicitly forbidden by law. Well, with this sudden move of all the evidence of her crime to the Obama library, looks like she skates again.

Deep State knows how to protect itself.

It’s appalling because these laws were put on the books precisely to prevent the sort of scenarios we have seen in the last six months: that of angry political partisans, embittered about the 2016 election, attempting to use U.S. intelligence resources to get back at their political enemies.  Susan Rice and her tag-teamer in Benghazi talking points, former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes (who never got a security clearance) and other denizens of the National Security Council have all apparently been involved in the illegally ordered ‘unmasking’ of U.S. citizens caught up in the intelligence dragnets of mass surveillance. Rice has been caught red-handed demanding to know the names of these Americans, something the law provides explicit protections for with the ‘unmasking’ of former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, who spoke with the Russian ambassador- followed by a flood of news leaks from Rhodes’ little buddies in what he called his “echo chamber” media.

It’s an abuse of power and a miscarriage of justice if there ever was one.

In their by-any-means-necessary minds, U.S. spy resources were their resources, not the state’s, to use as they pleased. And since they feel they have a right to rule, any abuse of power is acceptable, provided it supports their leftist president’s political fortunes and his now-rejected values.

Will she ever be sanctioned or scrutinized now? Not with a five-year wait on the black hole of Obama administration presidential library files.

On that front, it’s a good guess that the files themselves are likely to be raked through and scoured with “bleachbit” or whatever the favored erasure is, by Obama partisans in a bid to ensure that Rice’s role never sees the light of day – and Rice never faces the music. Just the example of former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger stuffing documents from the National Archives down his pants in a bid to alter the historic record is sign enough of that.

That they could do this legally signals a problem. Congress should act to stop this travesty of justice. Obama shouldn’t own any of those files – those files are evidence as well as historic record and in either case, belong solely to the American people who paid for them.

House Intelligence Committee sends subpoenas to intel agencies

May 31, 2017

House Intelligence Committee sends subpoenas to intel agencies, Fox NewsJames Rosen, May 31, 2017

Where NSA had previously complied with the House panel’s investigators, sources said that cooperation had ground to a complete halt, and that the other agencies – FBI and CIA – had never substantively cooperated with document requests at all. The investigators believe that even rudimentary document production as a result of the subpoenas will enable them to piece together a timeline linking the unmasking activity to news media reports, based on leaks, that conveyed the same information provided to the officials requesting unmasking.

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Three of the nation’s intelligence agencies received subpoenas Wednesday afternoon issued by the House Intelligence Committee, Fox News has confirmed, with each of the three demands for documents explicitly naming three top officials of the Obama administration: Susan Rice, who served as President Obama’s White House national security adviser; former CIA Director John Brennan; and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.

The three subpoenas, among a total of seven signed by panel chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), were served on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency, and all three explicitly referenced “unmasking” – a signal that the House panel is intensifying its investigation into allegations that Obama-era aides improperly demanded the “unmasking” of names of associates of President Trump that had appeared, in coded form, in classified intelligence reports, then leaked the data to news media organizations.

The other four subpoenas were issued at the behest of the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and were said to be duplicative of subpoenas already issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting a parallel probe. These four are focused, sources said, on persistent – but as yet unsubstantiated – allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, as well as the case of Michael Flynn. The former White House national security adviser was dismissed after three weeks on the job because the White House concluded he had misled Vice President Pence about private conversations Flynn had had with the Russian ambassador late last year.

The other target of these four subpoenas is said to be Michael Cohen, a longtime Trump attorney. Cohen has denied participating in any effort at collusion with the Kremlin. Flynn, through attorneys, has unsuccessfully sought immunity from prosecution in exchange for congressional testimony.

The issuance of the seven subpoenas was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The inclusion of Power’s name on the subpoenas marks the first appearance of the former U.N. ambassador in the controversy surrounding the Obama administration’s use of unmasking. Capitol Hill sources told Fox News they are devoting increasing scrutiny to Power – a former historian and winner of the Pulitzer Prize who worked as a foreign policy adviser in the Senate office of Barack Obama before joining his administration – because they have come to see her role in the unmasking as larger than previously known, and eclipsing those of the other former officials named.

Rice has previously denied any improper activity in her use of unmasking. “The allegation is somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes, that’s absolutely false,” Rice told MSNBC on April 4. President Trump said at that time that he personally believed Rice had committed a crime. None of those named on the subpoenas has been formally accused of wrongdoing.

Inquiries placed with representatives of Power and Brennan were not immediately returned.

That Nunes signed the seven subpoenas, as is standard practice, underscored the chairman’s continuing influence over key aspects of over his committee’s probe, despite the fact that Nunes in early April “stepped aside” from his panel’s Russia probe. He insists his decision was not a formal recusal, and he is still awaiting a hearing by the House Ethics Committee, which agreed at the time to investigate whether Nunes had improperly shared classified data with the White House before presenting it to Schiff and the rest of the intelligence committee.

Nunes told Fox News in an exclusive interview on May 19 that he is an active chairman, including continuing to preside over the unmasking angle of the investigation

Investigative sources on the committee’s Republican majority staff told Fox News that the unmasking subpoenas do not reflect a “fishing expedition,” but were issued because documentary evidence already in hand warranted demands for additional documents relating to Rice, Brennan and Power.

Where NSA had previously complied with the House panel’s investigators, sources said that cooperation had ground to a complete halt, and that the other agencies – FBI and CIA – had never substantively cooperated with document requests at all. The investigators believe that even rudimentary document production as a result of the subpoenas will enable them to piece together a timeline linking the unmasking activity to news media reports, based on leaks, that conveyed the same information provided to the officials requesting unmasking.

President Trump and the White House have dismissed the long-running allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, and possibly the transition team, as “fake news,” a scandal ginned up by supporters of President Obama and Hillary Clinton to explain the Democratic nominee’s stunning loss to Mr. Trump last November.

However, the Trump administration belatedly acquiesced in the appointment of former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III as a special counsel to investigate the allegations “and related matters.” Critics of the administration have also pointed to sustained reporting alleging undisclosed contacts between key Trump aides and various Russians – Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the probe at an early stage because of such contacts – and to a memorandum prepared in February by former FBI director James Comey, leaked a few days after his termination by President Trump, in which Comey alleged that the president had personally importuned him to abandon the FBI’s probe of Flynn.