Former national security adviser Susan Rice met privately Friday with Senate Intelligence Committee staffers. This was one of several Capitol Hill sessions involving Obama administration officials.
A closed-door session with Rice had been expected earlier this week on the House side. It remains unclear whether Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., or any other senators, were present for Friday’s meeting. Chairman Burr spoke with CNN of Friday regarding the “unmasking” investigation and had this to say:
The unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes, and I’ll wait to go through our full evaluation to see if there was anything improper that happened,” Burr said. ”But clearly there were individuals unmasked. Some of that became public which it’s not supposed to, and our business is to understand that, and explain it.
Some lawmakers have made clear they want to hear more from Obama administration officials, especially Susan Rice, regarding their potential role in “unmasking” the identities of Trump associates from intelligence reports last year.
Susan Rice has the main focus of the “unmasking” investigation for her alleged role. Congressional investigators have issued subpoenas to the NSA, CIA and FBI seeking “unmasking” information related to three individuals: Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.
Rice initially told PBS’ Judy Woodruff in March that she “knew nothing” about the unmasking of Trump associates. Yet, just weeks later, she admitted she sometimes sought out the identities of Trump associates who communicated with foreigners, a request known as “unmasking” in the intelligence community. But “I leaked nothing to nobody,” Rice told MSNBC. A reference to media reports detailing conversations between then-national security adviser Michel Flynn and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. Reports of those conversations led to Flynn’s resignation in February.
In an interview with New York Magazine, Rice suggested that her race and gender may be playing a role in the controversy. When asked why she thought she became a target of the investigation, Rice replied, “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. What do you think?” She then went on to say,
“Let me just put it this way,” she says. “I do not leap to the simple explanation that it’s only about race and gender. I’m trying to keep my theories to myself until I’m ready to come out with them. It’s not because I don’t have any.”
Power, too, has agreed to testify before the House intelligence committee as part of its Russia probe, Fox News has learned. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper already appeared before both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on Monday.
All sessions with former Obama administration officials are set to be closed, according to sources on Capitol Hill.