Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who initially denounced the “false statements” issued by President Donald Trump when he claimed President Barack Obama “wiretapped” him last year, has offered differing versions of what she knew about surveillance activities in which the identities of Trump associates were unmasked.
Rice has been at the center of controversy this week after multiple media sources reported she was coordinating surveillance activities of Trump’s associates and requested the identities of his associates be unmasked. Intelligence officials have said that generally, the identities of Americans who are caught up in surveillance of foreign officials are not revealed unless there is a reason to do so.
Rice was interviewed by PBS on March 22, shortly after House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., said Trump and his associates may have been caught up in surveillance of foreign targets.
“I know nothing about this,” Rice told PBS.
“Let’s back up and recall where we had been: The president of the United States accused his predecessor, President Obama, of wiretapping Trump Tower during the campaign. Nothing of the sort occurred. We have heard that confirmed by the director of the FBI who also pointed out that no president, no White House can order the surveillance of another American citizen. That can only come from the Justice Department with the approval of a FISA court,” she said at the time.
“So today, I really don’t know to what Chairman Nunes was referring. He said whatever he was referring to was a legal, lawful surveillance and that it was potentially incidental collection on American citizens. I think it’s important for people to understand what incidental means. That means the target was either a foreign entity or someone under criminal investigation, and the Americans who were talking to those targets may have been picked up,” she added.