A bombshell report last week revealed that Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s national security advisor, asked the intelligence community for information on and subsequently unmasked members of Trump’s transition team and campaign. As a result of this revelation, pressure has been mounting for an investigation into Rice over these reports. Here are the reasons why this is a good idea:
1. We need to know if the unmasking of members of Trump’s team was politically motivated.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R – GA) said the following to The Hill‘s Molly K. Hooper:
When you’re in position like that and you have responsibility, constitutional responsibility, legal responsibility, you do not take things upon yourself to drive national security in a political direction.
Rep. Loudermilk is correct. The national security advisor works with the president on issues surrounding the protection of the homeland, a power that is enumerated to the executive branch in Article II of the Constitution, and should not be influenced by partisan politics. If Rice acted extrajudicially in pushing her political agenda through her position, that raises serious concerns.
2. We need to know who initiated the unmasking of Trump’s team.
When Rep. Devin Nunes (R – CA) announced information about the “incidental collection” of surveillance intel on Trump’s team, it was unclear who was responsible for ordering the wiretaps in the first place and whether it was actually intended to keep tabs on Trump’s team. Having been outed as involved in the unmasking, Rice needs to be upfront about the intent of the wiretaps that “incidentally” bugged members of then-President-elect Trump’s transition team.
Rep. Loudermilk likewise addresses this question in his statement to The Hill. “Somewhere, somebody in the intelligence community had the idea to make this political to unmask those people so that it can be used for political purposes,” he said. “The question is, we know where the order came from, what it sounds like from Susan Rice, was it her intention or was she just parroting something that someone said?”
Indeed, Rice needs to answer that question.
3. We need to know if Rice’s actions violated the law.
While it is not illegal to unmask Americans incidentally wiretapped in a surveillance operation, it is illegal to leak those names to the press, as Trey Gowdy (R – SC) implied while questioning FBI Director James Comey a few weeks ago.
Watch his line of questioning from March 20:
4. We need closure to this story.
This story has been front and center of the news cycle for over a month, ever since President Trump tweeted his accusation that President Obama “wire tapped” Trump Tower. We need answers to all the questions surrounding this possible “political weaponizing” of the intelligence agencies.