A massive revelation in the alleged surveillance of President Trump’s aides broke Monday morning when Bloomberg reported that “[f]ormer National Security Adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign.” With their identities unmasked, it allowed for someone to freely and illegally leak their names to the press. It’s controversial news but ABC and NBC both chose to ignore it that night, while CBS defended Rice.
“We learned more today about the President's allegation that he and his aides were caught up in Obama-era surveillance,” CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley said, teeing up reporter Margaret Brennan. Strangely, Pelley stayed away from flinging the fiery insults which drew him much praise from the left. Instead of calling Trump’s claims “baseless,” he kept it neutral, only referring to them as “allegations.” He also described what the concern was as “Obama-era surveillance,” something he had not done in the past.
Brennan played defense for Rice, stating: “Well, Scott, as national security adviser to the president, Susan Rice could and did request the names of individuals who were picked up during legal surveillance of foreign nationals.” She then cited unnamed sources who told her there was nothing wrong with what Rice did:
Now, according to a former national security official, Trump associates were not the sole focus of Rice's request, but they may have been revealed when she asked to understand why they were appearing in intelligence reports. However, Rice did not spread the information according to this former official, who insisted that there was nothing improper or political involved.
On Fox News’s Special Report, it was a whole different story as they led the program with Rice’s unmasking efforts. “The surveillance of people close to President Trump, possibly the President himself, now has a name and a face attached to it. And it's one you've seen in major scandals before,” declared fill-in host James Rosen during the opening tease.
“Two weeks ago, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced to the press and President he had uncovered a disturbing trend of intelligence collection on Trump officials, some of which was made public,” reported Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts, “Today, we learn more about the ‘how’ and ‘who’ of what's going on.”
The Fox News reporter noted that when it came to statements from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes about Trump aides being swept up in incidental collection, Rice claimed she didn't know anything. “I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today,” she claimed on PBS NewsHour on March 22. That is now exposed as a lie, just like then she lied about what caused the Benghazi attack.
All of that and more went unreported on the Big Three networks. Ironically during Monday's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer called the media out for doing just that. “I think that it is interesting the level or lack of interest that I've seen in these developments when it goes in one direction,” he declared, referencing when the press rushed to wrongly finger NSC Director Ezra Cohen-Watnik as the source of Nunes’ information. But he, in fact, was the one who discovered Rice’s order during a review of the unmasking process. A noticeable double standard indeed.
CBS Evening News
April 3, 2017
6:35:28 PM Eastern
SCOTT PELLEY: Margaret, we learned more today about the President's allegation that he and his aides were caught up in Obama-era surveillance. What did you find out today?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Scott, as national security adviser to the president, Susan Rice could and did request the names of individuals who were picked up during legal surveillance of foreign nationals. Now, according to a former national security official, Trump associates were not the sole focus of Rice's request, but they may have been revealed when she asked to understand why they were appearing in intelligence reports. However, Rice did not spread the information according to this former official, who insisted that there was nothing improper or political involved.
PELLEY: Margaret Brennan at the White House. Margaret, thank you.
Fox News Channel
April 3, 2017
6:00:15 PM Eastern
JAMES ROSEN: The surveillance of people close to President Trump, possibly the President himself, now has a name and a face attached to it. And it's one you've seen in major scandals before. This is Special Report.
ROSEN: Good evening, I am James Rosen sitting in for Bret Baier. Fox News has confirmed that President Obama's national security advisor secretly ordered the intelligence community to reveal to her the names of people close to President Trump who had been swept up in U.S. surveillance on foreign targets and referenced only by code in classified intelligence reports.
ROSEN: We begin with Chief White house Correspondent John Roberts and a familiar name from the Obama administration surfacing in yet another scandal. Good evening, John.
JOHN ROBERTS: James, good evening. Two weeks ago, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced to the press and President he had uncovered a disturbing trend of intelligence collection on Trump officials, some of which was made public. Others remain known to administration officials. Today we learn more about the “how” and “who” of what's going on.
[Cuts to video]
Multiple sources tell Fox News that President Obama's national security advisor Susan Rice was the one who requested the names of Trump officials be unmasked in the intelligence reports that were collected during the campaign and transition. The White House, which has access to intelligence logs that allegedly show Rice was behind the unmasking, was playing coy today.
Does this White House look at what she allegedly requested as a national security issue or political issue?
SEAN SPICER: Well, that's a nice back door into a line of questioning. I think until there is a finding of that, I don't want to start getting into motives because we still haven't—I mean, me getting to the motives assumes certain things in fact that I don't think we are ready to go to yet.
ROBERTS: Senator Rand Paul, today, described the revolution as, quote "A smoking gun." In a tweet writing: "Smoking gun found! Obama pal and noted dissembler Susan Rice said to have been spying on Trump campaign." There is no suggestion that what Rice allegedly requested was illegal. As the President's point person on national security, she had the authority. But in a recent television appearance, she claimed no knowledge of it.
SUSAN RICE: I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.
ROBERTS: Rice has a checkered past when it comes to public statements. She had initially claimed the Benghazi attack was in response to a controversial video and praised sergeant Bowe Bergdahl who faces a court-martial in may for desertion.
RICE: He served the United States with honor and distinction.
ROBERTS: In its closing days, the Obama administration scrambled to preserve as much intelligence it could about Russia and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Former Obama administration official Evelyn Farkas appeared to acknowledge Trump officials had been the subject of surveillance.
EVELYN FARKAS: Get as much as you can before President Obama leaves the administration, because I had a fear somehow that information would disappear.
ROBERTS: The extent of the unmasking became apparent when NSC Director Ezra Cohen-Watnik conducted a review of unmasking policy. Sources say he came across many instances where the names of Trump officials had been revealed. He brought that information to the White house counsel, who told him to suspend the review. Cohen-Watnik was suspect of an intense media coverage when he was mistakenly identified as one of House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes' sources. Today the Press Secretary wondered why the Rice Revelations weren’t drawing the same attention.
SPICER: I think that it is interesting the level, or lack of interest that I've seen in these developments when it goes in one direction.
[Cuts back to live]
ROBERTS: While this new information adds another layer of intrigue to everything that went on during the campaign, it still seemed to fall short of proving the President’s claim back on March the 4 that he was being quote “wiretapped” by President Obama. James.