Se­nate panel to scru­ti­nize “un­mask­ing” of Trump team.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAN BOY­LAN Alex Swoyer con­trib­uted to this re­port.

The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee will take a hard look at the al­leged “un­mask­ing” of Trump cam­paign and tran­si­tion of­fi­cials by the Obama White House at a closed-door hear­ing Wed­nes­day — push­ing an un­der­ex­plored as­pect of the scan­dal over Rus­sian med­dling in the Novem­ber pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

For­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Su­san E. Rice and other top of­fi­cials from the Obama White House have come un­der sus­pi­cion that they in­ap­pro­pri­ately asked to iden­tify — “un­mask” — Amer­i­can ci­ti­zens caught up in U.S. in­tel­li­gence in­ter­cepts of for­eign fig­ures un­der surveil­lance in the Rus­sia probe, ap­par­ently try­ing to find out whether Mr. Trump and his top aides were caught up in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

While Repub­li­cans have led the charge for a deeper in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the un­mask­ing ac­cu­sa­tions, it was a key Democrat on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee who raised the is­sue dur­ing a public com­mit­tee hear­ing on Tues­day, as­sert­ing that law­mak­ers hope to ex­plore it more deeply with FBI of­fi­cials dur­ing a clas­si­fied hear­ing Wed­nes­day.

Sen. Shel­don White­house, Rhode Is­land Democrat, told Carl Ghat­tas, ex­ec­u­tive as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the FBI na­tional se­cu­rity branch, that he specif­i­cally wants an­swers dur­ing the closed-door hear­ing about the leaks sur­round­ing President Trump’s for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, Michael Flynn, who re­signed over con­tacts with Rus­sia.

“There is a spe­cific al­le­ga­tion that has been float­ing around that the con­ver­sa­tions be­tween Michael Flynn and [Rus­sian] Am­bas­sador [Sergey] Kislyak came into the White House with Flynn masked,” Mr. White­house told his fel­low com­mit­tee mem­bers. “And that a de­ci­sion was made in the Obama White House to un­mask him — which then led to leaks to the news­pa­pers and so forth.”

Mr. Ghat­tas heads up the FBI’s op­er­a­tions and in­tel­li­gence ef­forts in­volv­ing na­tional se­cu­rity mat­ters. In March, Ms. Rice ad­mit­ted to re­quest­ing the un­mask­ing of some Amer­i­cans redacted in raw in­tel­li­gence re­ports but ar­gued that the re­quests were part of her job and were not po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Rep. Devin Nunes, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and chair­man of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, has been an out­spo­ken pro­po­nent of fo­cus­ing on the is­sue.

The House in­tel­li­gence panel last month is­sued three sub­poe­nas to in­tel­li­gence agen­cies for records re­lat­ing to al­leged un­mask­ing re­quests made by se­nior Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion fig­ures, in­clud­ing Ms. Rice, CIA Di­rec­tor John O. Bren­nan and U.S. Am­bas­sador to the U.N. Sa­man­tha Power.

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