PoliZette

Power’s Role in Unmaskings Suggests Political Motivation

Republican source calls Obama UN ambassador's involvement in Trump surveillance a 'bombshell'

The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas on Wednesday, all related to alleged Russian hacking into the 2016 election.

But one subpoena stood out, and it has caused complaints within Democratic circles.

“Why would a diplomat need to know the names of Trump officials?” asked The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The subpoena was to federal agencies for information regarding Samantha Power’s “unmasking” requests. Power was former President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations.

One official close to the House investigation called a subpoena for information on Power a “bombshell,” as it could indicate evidence of political motivation at play in intel gathered on Donald Trump during his presidential transition.

“Why would a diplomat need to know the names of Trump officials?” asked The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

It was a question that buzzed around Capitol Hill on Thursday, too.

Unmasking is the step in intelligence-sharing when government officials request that Americans whose names have been redacted instead be identified in reports. Masking allows Americans not to be caught up in spying on foreign officials in the United States. The practice is supposed to protect the civil liberties of Americans.

[lz_ndn video=32490949]

Unmasking requests are not supposed to be made lightly.

A Republican close to the House investigation said he does not understand why Power would make such a request related to the Russia investigation.

The kind of legitimate use of unmasking in reports is done for intelligence analysts and federal investigators, the source told LifeZette on Thursday morning. Powers’ role as ambassador did not really touch upon those roles.

But the source cautioned that since Power received intel reports, she could make the request. The real question is: Why would she ask?

The House committee has reportedly grown impatient with requests for information from the FBI and CIA. The National Security Agency, according to Fox News, has been quicker to reply. Still, the House thought subpoenas were the best way to next proceed, according to National Review.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has stepped down from the Russian investigation. But he remains in control of the investigation into the unmasking aspect of the election-related controversy.

Nunes has made an easy target for the Democrats because he went public with information with possible unmasking abuses on March 22.

Nunes held two controversial press conferences in the Capitol and then on White House grounds, alleging that Trump and his associates were “incidentally” surveilled at Trump Tower, and then unmasked in subsequent reports. It is unclear when they were surveilled, but it was likely during the transition, when Trump was president-elect.

That information was shared within top tiers of the Obama administration.

But Democrats and media commentators pounded Nunes for giving succor to Trump, who previously alleged, without evidence, that his Trump Tower was “wiretapped.”

Nunes chose to back away from the Russia investigation on April 6 after left-wing groups filed ethics complaints against Nunes, alleging he had improperly confirmed the existence of classified information.

The House Intelligence Committee subpoenas for information on Power, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and former CIA Director John Brennan brought new whining from the Democrats this week.

Democratic officials anonymously complained that Nunes did not ask Democratic House committee members about the request.

But chairmen of such committees have the ability to issue subpoenas, according to a Republican source on the Hill.

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.