Subpoenas have been sent, so get ready for a wild ride.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is accelerating their investigation into the Obama administration’s targeted campaign to “unmask” aides and officials working on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign or transition team, reports The Daily Caller.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) blocks intelligence agencies from spying on US persons. While monitoring foreign officials, intelligence officials often incidentally monitor American citizens engaging with these foreign officials. Whenever identifying information about a US person is captured, agents must “minimize” the data, and redact the information. Investigators and some top political officials are allowed to request the identity of these persons by “unmasking” them.
The Intelligence Committee is also planning to ramp up their investigation into Fusion GPS, an “opposition research” and private intelligence company that is frequently employed by members of the Democrat National Committee (DNC). Fusion GPS worked with the Democrats, media outlets, and a former British spy to create the notorious “Trump Dossier,” which has been largely discredited, according to The Daily Caller.
Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power has agreed to testify to the committee privately and will be interviewed over the next two weeks.
While serving under former President Barack Obama, Power reportedly attempted to unmask the identity of up to 260 US persons. The majority of the unmasking requests targeted President Trump’s campaign aides or transition officials.
Power was apparently so aggressive in her attempt to unmask the people working under President Trump that she requested identifying information from US intelligence officers on an almost daily basis.
“Her aggressive use of unmasking requests sends a very, very suspicious signal that she was working hand in glove with somebody to get information,” suggested former US Attorney Joseph DiGenova.
The committee has already subpoenaed Power for documents relating to her time as ambassador. Power has voluntarily agreed to testify in private.
The Intelligence Committee has also issued a subpoena to the owners of Fusion GPS, compelling them to testify. During the heat of the 2016 presidential election, Fusion GPS produced a document with the support of former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. The document alleged President Trump had been blackmailed by the Russian government.
The allegations have never been verified, and Fusion GPS has been accused of having ties to the Russian government.
According to Steele’s lawyers, the former spy worked with reporters from the New York Times, Yahoo! News, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker to spread information about the dossier and damage the chances of then-candidate Trump.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is accelerating their investigation into the Obama administration’s targeted campaign to “unmask” aides and officials working on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign or transition team. Will it go anywhere?
The identities of many of the US persons unmasked by the Obama administration have been leaked to the press.
Rules protecting American citizens from government surveillance have been proven inadequate to block a sitting president from monitoring his political opponent. While it is not clear that the Obama administration broke any law while monitoring the campaign of President Trump, the actions of the former administration have clearly crossed a line.
The sitting members of the Select Committee on Intelligence are planning to address this by bringing forth legislation that will limit the ease of unmasking US persons.