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October 03, 2017

Congressional Investigators Notice Timing of Susan Rice Unmasking Request and Leak of Trump Associate Name to Media Weeks Later

The story is headlined, "No Trump 'victory lap' as Congress probes Obama-era unmasking." The beginning notes that Trump has maintained an untrumpian silence throughout most of the revelations that he was basically right in saying he'd been "tapped" (his quotes, which seem to indicate he was speaking colloquially), and the media basically liars to claim otherwise.

I came away with the sense that Sarah Westwood's source really pushed that angle to her, to suggest to Trump that silence is a good strategy here and he should continue on with it.

Then the story gets to a new revelation, or at least it's new to me.

Congressional investigators have noticed a potential link between an April story in the Washington Post -- in which the identity of a Trump associate was revealed in the context of information that could have been collected through surveillance activities - -and an unmasking request made by former national security adviser Susan Rice weeks before the publication of that story, a source familiar with the investigation told the Washington Examiner.

The report described a meeting between Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and an unidentified Russian individual on the island of Seychelles in January. Prince had represented himself during the meeting, which was set up by United Arab Emirates officials, as a conduit for the Trump campaign who was interested in setting up a "back-channel line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump," according to the report. Congressional investigators are eyeing a potential connection between the leak of Prince's identity to the media and an unmasking request from Rice that took place in the final days of the Obama administration.

Rice infamously claimed "I know nothing about any of this" when asked about the unmaskings. But then, she lies a lot.

And in fairness, Rice may not have leaked this herself. But then, the Obama Administration loosened the rules in the final hours of its reign, permitting unmasked names to be shared throughout government, thus vastly increasing the number of people who could leak confidential information, thus making it safer to leak confidential information, thus -- seemingly deliberately -- changing the rules precisely so that confidential information would be leaked.

Susan Rice may be telling the truth (as improbable as that seems, and as unevidenced by her previous record) as far as leaking.

But the new Obama rules -- from an administration that bugged reporters to stop leaking against itself -- made it the case that Susan Rice didn't have to leak it. She could just do her unmasking thing and let that information flow to almost everyone in the government and count on someone somewhere leaking to the press.

Maybe she didn't pull the trigger -- but she seems to have bought the bullets for this particular shot.

And that's the way Obama wanted it.

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posted by Ace at 02:47 PM

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