President Trump said that the former national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, may have committed a crime by trying to learn the identities of Trump associates who were swept up in foreign officials' surveillance by United States spy agencies.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump told the New York Times on Wednesday that Rice may have committed a crime.
Rice, meanwhile says it's "absolutely false" that the previous administration used intelligence about Mr. Trump's associates for political purposes.
"There were occasions when I would receive a report in which a US person was referred to - name not provided - just 'U.S. person.' And sometimes, in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or request the information as to who the USA official was", she said in an interview with MSNBC Tuesday afternoon.
"Allegations that the National Security Agency is "withholding information" from congressional intelligence committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election are categorically untrue", the statement said.
On April 2, "alt-right" leader Mike Cernovich originally wrote that the White House Counsel's office had "identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking [of Trump transition officials incidentally captured in legal surveillance] after examining Rice's document log requests". More than Hillary Clinton's, it was her post-Benghazi comments that gave the Obama administration major headaches, given Rice said the attack appeared to result from spontaneous protests due to an anti-Islam video.
Rice has denied that her request had any political motivation, though some question whether or not unmasking incidental names was part of her job. She would not say whether she saw intelligence related to Trump associates or whether she asked for their identities, though she did say that reports related to Russian Federation increased in the final months of the presidential election campaign. Rice herself has publicly denied any wrongdoing.
Jared Kushner omits some foreign contacts on security form
But this week, he was removed from the National Security Council's principals committee in what was widely viewed as a demotion. Publicly, White House staff deny that the rumors of a major overhaul amount to anything more than that - rumors.
"He's a person I know well - he is a good person", Trump said. Strictly speaking, it isn't: FBI Director Jim Comey and the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committee all say there was no "wiretap" of Trump.
I agree with Rand Paul who said, "We need to protect American privacy".
If Rice or someone else in the Obama administration did request the unmasking of Trump associates, would it be a crime?
But he refused to reveal what led him to that conclusion, saying he would talk more about it "at the right time".
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, criticized Republicans for focusing on Rice. Unmasking does occur, but it is typically done by intelligence or law-enforcement officials engaged in anti-terror or espionage investigations.
She didn't "leak", she only "unmasked".