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Speaking with the Times, Trump said Rice's actions as national security adviser is "going to be the biggest story".

He continued,"It's such an important story for our country and the world".

Rice, in the Trump construction, may have masterminded a Richard Nixon-like campaign of spying on Obama's political opponents, one that stretched back years before the presidential transition in which she has been accused. Rice herself has publicly denied any wrongdoing.

Over the past few days, it was revealed that former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice took deliberate steps to unmask members of the Trump campaign swept up in incidental intelligence collection operations during the course of their conversations with targets of USA collection.

"I leaked nothing, to nobody, and never have and never would", Rice said on MSNBC.

Rice declined to comment through a spokeswoman: "I'm not going to dignify the President's ludicrous charge with a comment". In an interview on MSNBC on Tuesday, however, she explained how requesting the identities of us officials in intelligence reports was sometimes necessary to do for her job as national security adviser.

"Americans deserve to know if Pres Obamas National Security Adviser was involved in unmasking Trump transition figures for political purposes", tweeted South Carolina Sen.

It's not illegal to unmask the names of Americans caught up incidentally in surveillance.

Instead, Obama made Rice national security adviser, a job within the executive office of the president and so without need for Senate confirmation.

Yet in that process, someone revealed the name of an American whose communications had been examined - known as unmasking.

(This may explain how the information came out-that is, was leaked-about Michael Flynn's meeting with the Russian ambassador, something even Democrats routinely have done.) We now know that Obama advisor Susan Rice initiated the unmasking. The national security advisor is not a law enforcement position and therefore does not have the authority to engage in domestic investigatory efforts, especially those that violate the constitutional rights of American citizens who were not legally valid targets of intelligence collection operations.

Russian banker convicted in U.S. spy ring deported to Moscow
Carter Page told Buzzfeed that he had met with a Russian intelligence operative named Victor Podobnyy in New York City in 2013. In December, Donald Trump's son-in-law and close adviser met privately with the head of a Russian bank under USA sanctions.

USA intelligence agencies have been blunt in their assessment that the hacks of Democratic email accounts were meant to benefit Trump and harm Clinton, his Democratic opponent. Nor would it be unusual for her to request those identities be unmasked.

Back in 2012, when President Obama was running for re-election and America's consulate in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists associated with Al Qaeda, she appeared on several Sunday morning talk shows to say the assault was a "spontaneous" protest that turned deadly due to rage inspired by an American-made, anti-Islamic video posted to YouTube.

In addition, since last summer, intelligence agencies have been investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election, including its role in hacking into Democratic email systems and distributing stolen communications and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

When asked if Rice, who has denied leaking the names of Trump associates under surveillance by US intelligence agencies, had committed a crime, the president said, "Do I think?". CNN anchor Chris Cuomo responded to the story with the following: "All right, President Trump, right-wing media types [are] peddling a fake scandal".

McCarthy said every administration has safeguards in place to protect the president and give him plausible deniability in situations like this.

The White House and Trump himself later said that the wiretapping allegations referred to broader surveillance by the Obama administration.

The next day, over at ABC, Martha Raddatz pretended to interview White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

It was Nunes who first raised the unmasking allegations, saying that some names were unmasked in the documents he reviewed.

Ben Rhodes, one of the most frazzled former Obama officials on social media these days, tweeted yesterday, "Bullying people into covering routine work of any senior nat sec official as news is clear effort to distract from Qs about Trump and Russian Federation".

The House Intelligence Committee's ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, praised Nunes' recusal.