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Report: Susan Rice tells House why she unmasked Trump officials

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2017-09-13 Jessica Estepa
Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice. © Carolyn Kaster, AP Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

Former national security adviser Susan Rice reportedly unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials in order to determine why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates visited New York last year.

Sources told CNN that Rice made the disclosure to the House Intelligence Committee last week.

In December, the crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, secretly visited New York and met with Trump officials, CNN reported. While it's unclear which Trump officials were discussed at the House hearing, the network said Mike Flynn, Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon participated in the December meeting.

Rice, who was then national security adviser under President Obama, requested the names of the Americans mentioned in a classified report about the New York visit to be revealed internally – after the UAE government did not inform the government that the prince was coming to the country. 

Unmasking – the previously obscure process for revealing information about U.S. citizens in intelligence reports – sparked controversy earlier this year. After Trump assumed the presidency, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes revealed he had seen the names of Trump officials in classified reports, even though names of citizens and permanent residents are typically excluded in order to protect their privacy.

Conservative media outlets said Rice had used her office to request information about officials serving on Trump's transition team. 

Rice has previously asserted that she did not unmask the Trump associates for political purposes. 

"The allegation is that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes," Rice told MSNBC back in April. "That's absolutely false."

After Rice's testimony before House lawmakers last week, at least one Republican seemed satisfied with her answer.

"I didn't hear anything to believe that she did anything illegal," committee member Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., told CNN of Rice's testimony.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said he believed people were satisfied with Rice's testimony.

"I can certainly express my own view that I see no indication that she did anything at all wrong, and, in fact, I think that what she did in her role was perfectly appropriate," he told CNN.

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