Former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice said Tuesday the notion she used her powers to unmask members of the Trump campaign or transition for political purposes is “absolutely false.”
Speaking to MSNBC, Ms. Rice also said she never kept a spreadsheet of instances in which intelligence community picked up conversations involving the Trump campaign — something that was suggested in a news report that President Trump posted to his Twitter account early Tuesday.
Mr. Trump and Republicans are seizing on reports that Ms. Rice, during the waning days of the Obama administration, played a central role in “unmasking” several Trump campaign officials who had been swept up in U.S. surveillance operations against foreign targets during last year’s presidential election campaign.
Ms. Rice said any notion she used her powers to harm Mr. Trump during a review of incoming intelligence on possible Russian interference in the election was false.
“Absolutely not for any political purposes — to spy, expose anyone. I leaked nothing to nobody,” she told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell.
She said it is not uncommon to find out the identity of U.S. officials when it seemed relevant, based on intelligence, but she has no recollection of ramping up those efforts during the campaign and that she didn’t unmask anyone in communications.
She did, however, say Russian meddling was of “great concern” and that the pace of intelligence reporting on the subject picked up as Obama officials were leaving office.
Ms. Rice also decried Mr. Trump’s controversial claim that President Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower — one that’s been rejected publicly by the FBI and leading intelligence officials.
“That’s a very serious allegation. It had no basis in fact. It wasn’t typical of how presidents treat their predecessors,” Ms. Rice said.
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