Trump says former Obama official may have committed a crime

In yet another example of Trump running wild with baseless information, the president now claims that Obama's National Security Adviser, Susan Rice, engaged in criminal activity after it was revealed that she unmasked the names of Trump officials that were mentioned in intelligence documents.

A Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee told Fox News that the intelligence reports in which some of President Donald Trump's associates were "unmasked" contained detailed information about the associates' everyday lives. In an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday, however, she explained how requesting the identities of USA officials in intelligence reports was sometimes necessary to do for her job as national security adviser.

Despite how right-wing media and legislators attempt to spin it, unmasking names is a standard procedure regulated by the National Security Agency in their Signals Intelligence Directive 18.

The probe followed revelations that Russian hackers broke into the computer network of the Democratic National Committee, a hack USA officials and cybersecurity experts have publicly tied to Russian intelligence services. "I think it's a massive, massive story", said Mr. Trump.

Rice also denied that she leaked information to the press, saying "I leaked nothing to nobody".

Last month, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., made waves when he announced that the communications of Trump transition team members had been "incidentally" swept up by USA intelligence agencies while they were conducting legal foreign surveillance. "That is absolutely false".

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Rice declined to comment through a spokeswoman: "I'm not going to dignify the President's ludicrous charge with a comment".

White House spokesman Sean Spicer cast Rice's handling of intelligence in the waning days of Obama's term as suspicious, although he did not detail what he found to be inappropriate.

The White House and Trump himself later said that the wiretapping allegations referred to broader surveillance by the Obama administration.

In January, the Justice Department and intelligence officials agreed on new rules giving more US agencies access to raw information picked up overseas by the National Security Agency. But it sometimes picks up communications involving US citizens who are not the target of the investigation. And Republicans can talk in open hearings, and to reporters, about the Rice-unmasking narrative - not Russian cyberattacks or potential collusion with Trump aides.

Rice became a favorite target of conservatives after the 2012 attacks on a USA diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, when she was sent out to do television interviews with talking points about the attacks that later proved to be incorrect. It might very well have been President Obama, Susan Rice and other members of the Obama administration who were actually doing the meddling to try to defeat Trump.

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