Obama Aide Ben Rhodes To Testify On ‘Unmasking’ Before Intel Committee
Ben Rhodes, formerly Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, is set to testify Wednesday before the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
The committee identified Rhodes as a “person of interest” in the growing “unmasking”scandal in which top Obama officials spied on Trump campaign aides and transition to track their contacts with foreign government leaders, TheDCNF reported in August. Rhodes will testify about the unmasking Wednesday, a source from the committee told TheDCNF.
In one instance, Obama aides unmasked Trump transition officials who were meeting privately in New York with the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates last December. The meeting was so hush-hush the head of state did not notify the Obama White House he was traveling to the United States, which is the customary for foreign leaders.
Rhodes, along with Obama’s national security advisor Susan Rice, has been linked to an overall effort to “unmask” Trump campaign aides and transition officials who had legal contacts with diplomats and other foreign government officials.
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Samantha Power, Obama’s former U.N. Ambassador, and John Brennan, Obama’s CIA Director, also have been implicated in large scale “unmasking.”
Former U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova previously told TheDCNF that Rice and Rhodes compiled “spread sheets” on the growing number of Trump aides they were unmasking. Rice has denied that she compiled spread sheets, but in private testimony before the intelligence committee she did concede she unmasked Trump associates.
The Obama administration has been under intense scrutiny by both the House Intelligence Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee for its unmasking activities and its apparent easy access to raw intelligence targeting political opponents in the Trump campaign and later among transition officials.
The unprecedented White House-led activity was first reported last March by Rep. Devin Nunes, the intelligence committee chairman. He personally reviewed raw national intelligence on U.S. citizens that had been collected by the National Security Agency and culled by Obama administration officials.
Democratic members of the committee decried Nunes’s private review of the NSA files, but the complaints subsided after ranking committee member Rep. Adam Schiff personally reviewed the same NSA documents.
Some of the aides who were “unmasked” were later leaked to the liberal news media. The unauthorized release of raw intelligence is a federal crime.
Rhodes is also known as the Obama official who duped White House reporters into accepting the Iran nuclear deal in a profile by the New York Times Magazine. He dripped with sarcasm about the Washington press corps and how easy it was to fool them.
Both Democrats and Republican members of the committee are expected to question Rhodes at the Wednesday committee meeting.
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