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Jus­tice Depart­ment rules limit sup­ply­ing po­lit­i­cally sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion to the White House, a re­view of at­tor­ney gen­eral guide­lines for do­mes­tic FBI in­tel­li­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tions has found.

A pro­hi­bi­tion con­tained in the 2008 guide­lines is a cen­tral fo­cus of the on­go­ing House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence probe into Rus­sian elec­tion med­dling and unau­tho­rized dis­clo­sures of sen­si­tive U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­ter­cepts.

The pro­hi­bi­tions in guide­lines may ex­plain why the FBI so far has re­fused to co­op­er­ate with the House com­mit­tee’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Specif­i­cally, as of Wednesday, the FBI still has not re­sponded to a re­quest for doc­u­ments that could ex­plain how the White House was able to “un­mask” the names of Amer­i­cans in­ci­den­tally spied on dur­ing a for­eign elec­tronic in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tion that ran from Novem­ber to Jan­uary — the same months the Trump tran­si­tion team was work­ing.

FBI spokesman An­drew Ames would not say why the bureau has not met the House com­mit­tee’s doc­u­ment re­quest. “The FBI will con­tinue to work with our con­gres­sional over­sight com­mit­tees on their re­quests,” he told In­side the Ring.

Ac­cord­ing to con­gres­sional sources, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is try­ing to de­ter­mine if Su­san

E. Rice, Pres­i­dent Obama’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, was in­volved in a clan­des­tine po­lit­i­cal spy­ing op­er­a­tion us­ing for­eign sur­veil­lance as cover.

Ms. Rice is ex­pected to be a cen­tral wit­ness in the com­ing weeks be­fore com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tors to ex­plain the un­mask­ing and wide dis­sem­i­na­tion of what the com­mit­tee chair­man, Rep. Devin Nunes, has called im­proper elec­tronic sur­veil­lance of Trump tran­si­tion team of­fi­cials.

Mr. Nunes has said dozens of elec­tronic in­tel­li­gence re­ports ap­pear to have re­vealed that in­for­ma­tion on Amer­i­cans was im­prop­erly and widely dis­sem­i­nated through­out govern­ment dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial tran­si­tion.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral guide­lines for the FBI state that “com­pro­mis­ing in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing do­mes­tic of­fi­cials or po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions, or in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of United States per­sons in­tended to af­fect the po­lit­i­cal process in the United States, may be dis­sem­i­nated to the White House only with the ap­proval of the at­tor­ney gen­eral.”

The shar­ing of com­pro­mis­ing FBI in­for­ma­tion also must be “based on a de­ter­mi­na­tion that such dis­sem­i­na­tion is needed for for­eign in­tel­li­gence pur­poses, for the pur­pose of pro­tect­ing against in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism or other threats to the na­tional se­cu­rity, or for the con­duct of for­eign af­fairs.”

The act­ing at­tor­ney gen­eral at the time was

Sally Q. Yates, and the House com­mit­tee is ex­pected to ques­tion her in ad­di­tion to Ms. Rice about the FBI’s role in the in­tel­li­gence-gath­er­ing con­tro­versy.

The guide­lines also list six cat­e­gories of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion that can be rou­tinely shared with the White House. They in­clude in­for­ma­tion on for­eign spy ac­tiv­i­ties in the United States, signs of an im­mi­nent for­eign at­tack or cy­ber­at­tack, data on for­eign lead­er­ship changes and in­for­ma­tion about for­eign eco­nomic or po­lit­i­cal events that could have an im­pact on na­tional se­cu­rity.

The FBI can also share in­for­ma­tion with the White House if the in­for­ma­tion is out­lined in reg­u­larly pub­lished na­tional in­tel­li­gence re­quire­ments.

The guide­lines were ex­panded in a bid to shift the FBI’s mis­sion from be­ing mainly a law en­force­ment agency to a do­mes­tic in­tel­li­gence agency with both na­tional se­cu­rity and law en­force­ment mis­sions.

Ms. Rice has de­nied en­gag­ing in po­lit­i­cal spy­ing on Don­ald Trump or his team and has de­nied leak­ing any clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion.

How­ever, she sug­gested dur­ing an MSNBC in­ter­view on April 4 that she had re­quested the names of Amer­i­cans redacted in for­eign in­tel­li­gence re­ports.

“There were oc­ca­sions when I would re­ceive a re­port in which a U.S. per­son was re­ferred to, name not pro­vided,” Ms. Rice said. “Some­times in that con­text, in or­der to un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of the re­port and as­sess its sig­nif­i­cance, it was nec­es­sary to re­quest the in­for­ma­tion as to who that per­son was.”

The New York Times re­ported in March that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials were “scram­bling” dur­ing the fi­nal days to col­lect and dis­sem­i­nate in­tel­li­gence on any ties be­tween Mr. Trump and his team and Rus­sia, fear­ing that once in of­fice the pres­i­dent would de­stroy com­pro­mis­ing in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by U.S. spies.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion also loos­ened rules on shar­ing raw elec­tronic in­tel­li­gence gath­ered by the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency on Dec. 15 — weeks be­fore Mr. Obama left of­fice. A 26-page di­rec­tive signed by then-Direc­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence James R. Clap­per has been crit­i­cized by pri­vacy groups as pos­ing new risks that Amer­i­cans’ rights will be vi­o­lated.


Former Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Su­san E. Rice is sus­pected of us­ing for­eign sur­veil­lance as a cover for clan­des­tine po­lit­i­cal spy­ing, sources say.

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