From The Free Beacon
Senior congressional leaders are renewing their focus on an investigation into efforts by the Obama administration to obtain highly classified intelligence information on Trump administration allies in what many allege was an effort to undermine the president and his national security team, according to conversations with multiple senior U.S officials familiar with the situation.
The recent admission by Obama administration National Security Adviser Susan Rice that she requested the unmasking of Trump associates named in highly classified intelligence community reports has placed renewed attention on an investigation into why this information was obtained and then leaked to the press.
In addition to Rice, former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power and other senior Obama officials made hundreds of similar unmasking requests in what many allege was a campaign to handicap the incoming Trump administration’s national security agenda, according to multiple sources familiar with the ongoing investigation into the matter.
The unmasking requests—a score of which were made in the final year of the Obama administration—could be just one part of a larger effort by the former administration to monitor the activities of Trump associates in the lead up to the 2016 election, according to these sources.
The subsequent leak of this classified information to the press has further fueled accusations that the former administration aimed to smear Trump’s team.
Congressional leaders and other insiders told the Washington Free Beacon that the investigation into the Obama administration’s unmasking campaign is gaining greater steam, even as the federal probe into alleged collusion with Russia drags on.
“The misuse of intelligence information by members of the Obama administration is a serious issue that requires an exhaustive investigation and accountability,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), chair of House Subcommittee on National Security, told the Free Beacon.
“From the unmasking exploits of Obamaphiles like Samantha Power to the leaking of FISA [Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act] material, this behavior has eroded public trust in America’s intelligence apparatus and has imperiled the future authorization of key counterterrorism programs,” said DeSantis, who has named other top Obama officials, such as former White House National Security Council member Ben Rhodes, as primary suspects in the subsequent leaks of this information. “Congress has a lot of work that needs to get done.”
Rice, who at first denied any role in the unmasking effort, admitted before lawmakers earlier this month that she had in fact requested the identities of Trump transition team members that had been hidden in classified intelligence reports to protect their privacy rights.
Some of this information later leaked to the press, fueling months of critical coverage and an ongoing federal probe into allegations of collusion with Russia.
“The media stories reporting that Susan Rice admitted to unmasking Trump officials—after initially claiming she knew nothing about it—have refocused a lot of attention in Congress on this issue,” said one senior congressional source with knowledge of the matter. “The ensuing media reports that [Trump transition team member] Paul Manafort was wiretapped have further intensified the sense that Obama officials were using intelligence products to keep tabs on Trump’s team.”
The investigation into these unmasking efforts continues to focus on top Obama officials, particularly Power, who is said to have had little need to unmask such sensitive classified information from her perch at Turtle Bay.
……The leak of this classified information to the press cost several Trump administration officials their political careers, including his original National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was subjected to scores of leaks meant to undermine his role in the administration.
The first evidence of a coordinated campaign to undermine Trump’s national security team began even before the January transition, when the outgoing Obama administration helped plant a series of damaging stories about Trump officials, including Flynn and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a former member of Congress who clashed repeatedly with the former administration on its efforts to ink the landmark nuclear deal with Iran.
A second senior congressional source familiar with the situation told the Free Beacon that the Russia investigation has exposed damaging information against senior Obama administration officials, rather than Trump.
The main purpose was to dig for any “evidence” of collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians. Obama used wiretaps for that purpose. It was purely an act of sedition. They found no wrong doing, and won’t admit to the wiretaps or the lack of evidence.
Over eight years of his regime, Obama was pretty prolific with the wiretaps.
Obama, Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice, and James Comey all had a hand in the illegal wiretaps and much more. They should all be prosecuted.