Published: Thu, April 13, 2017
USA | By Cassandra Hanson

Trump Picks Strategy To Counter Russia Storyline: Blame Susan Rice

Trump Picks Strategy To Counter Russia Storyline: Blame Susan Rice

This is former National Security Adviser Susan Rice's self-defense for having sought the explicit exposure, in highly classified intelligence documents, of the names of United States citizens inadvertently caught up in American surveillance of Russian officials.

Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, met with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013 and provided him documents about the energy industry, according to court documents from a 2015 prosecution alleging a Cold War-style spy ring in NY.

In an interview Tuesday with MSNBC, Rice said: "The allegation is that somehow the Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes".

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice insists her requests to unmask Trump associates were not politically motivated, saying her actions were a routine part of a "longstanding, established process". She would not say whether she asked for names to be unmasked, or whether she sought intelligence reports on Trump's associates. And making the story about Rice not only allows the White House to change the subject from what involvement Trump's campaign aides may have had in the Russian intelligence services' attempts to influence last year's election. Rice called herself "shocked" when she saw Trump's post on Twitter that said Obama had "wiretapped" him - "It wasn't typical of the way presidents treat their predecessors", she said.

When asked if Rice, who has denied leaking the names of Trump associates under surveillance by USA intelligence agencies, had committed a crime, the president said, "Do I think?"

"Do I think? Yes, I think", Trump replied. "That is absolutely false".

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"If so many things are described as the biggest, or the best, or the most - how to tell what really is important to this president?" But it sometimes picks up communications involving US citizens who are not the target of the investigation.

If Rice had indeed unmasked Trump associates' identities in these foreign surveillance reports, that response wouldn't quite make sense.

It's unclear if the information Nunes received is the same as the materials involving Rice. Senior intelligence agency officials then decide whether that information can be provided without violating the legal guidelines.

Rice became a favorite target of conservatives after the 2012 attacks on a US 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.

President Trump addresses a joint news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 5.

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