Former Obama White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes appears to be a focus of the House Intelligence Committee's unmasking probe, according the the website Circa.
Circa's Sara A. Carter reports that Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., sent a letter to the National Security Agency on Tuesday, asking how many unmaskings were made by Rhodes between Jan. 1, 2016 to Jan. 20, 2017, the day of President Donald Trump's inauguration.
Rhodes, in his official position, was legally allowed to request the names of Americans be unmasked in NSA intelligence reports, but Nunes' letter noted that his committee "found evidence that current and former government officials had easy access to U.S. person information and that it is possible that they used this information to achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective, anonymous leaking of such information."
The committee is looking into whether the unmaskings by Obama administration officials were done not for national security purposes, but to find and leak political information damaging to then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
In addition to Rhodes, former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and former CIA Director John Brennan also are focuses of the investigation.
Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Circa he is "deeply concerned" an abuse of power may have occurred, adding, "there needs to be a full investigation into who was being unmasked and why. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if there isn't enough votes to reauthorize the program, unless this situation can be resolved."
According to the report, the number of identities unmasked looks to have risen starting in July of 2016, at about the time Trump won the Republican nomination. They jumped again after he was elected in November and continued through January.
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