These intelligence reports became the subject of controversy after reports surfaced that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice "unmasked" U.S. citizens who were swept up in the incidental surveillance. But the actual conversation is murky, leaving open the possibility that the president thought another crime had been committed, such leaking classified information.
At a March 20 House intelligence committee hearing, FBI Director James Comey addressed this issue when asked if Rice would have access to an unmasked American's name.
Now it's all there: The plot and the villain and the quest for a predicate to drive the story forward.
Unmasking of said names is a violation of Federal law, as is leaking intelligence information to the press. They would need to know the official's name in order to alert him or her in advance, or to get a full picture of the situation, Rovner said. But, in fact, these reports have no connection to or evidence of wrongdoing by the president, his staff, or his campaign.
A source also told ABC News that on one occasion Rice requested the unmasking of Trump transition officials in a foreign intelligence report that had nothing to do with Russian Federation.
Sen. Paul: Well you know it's hard for me to know because I don't know all of the details, but I think Devin Nunes did a service to the country by exposing Susan Rice and I believe that's what happened, I don't know all the information that changed hands. There were senators and congressmen talking to Netanyahu about a year or so ago and the White House is listening in on these too. That is correct but it also does not make Rice the most reliable source. Last month, both men declined to appear at a private closed door House Intelligence Committee briefing and have not met with the committee members since. He has called for getting to the bottom of that story - but Rice being back in the mix is apparently too rich for him to pass up.
Rice became a favorite target of conservatives after the 2012 attacks on a USA diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, when she was sent out to do television interviews with talking points about the attacks that later proved to be incorrect. Republicans charged that Obama and his aides lied to protect his campaign-trail claims about having almost defeated al-Qaida. Clapper and Rice would seem to warrant such added probing.
Rice repeatedly blaming Benghazi on YouTube videos and saying that Bowe Bergdhal served with "honor and distinction" has left me with the underlying suspicion that Rice's commentary involved politicizing and spinning stories to serve a narrative rather than letting the truth drive American's opinions of national security events. Rice remained a target, however, for conservatives and critics of Obama's handling of the Syrian civil war - and she also made enemies within the government over what critics called her irresolution and micromanagement.
She would not have been able to do it on her own.
"I think the Susan Rice thing is a massive story", he told the newspaper.
"This is information about their everyday lives", Rep. Peter King of NY, a member of the House Intelligence committee said.
The Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, which has been leading one of the investigations, temporarily stepped aside from the probe Thursday after weeks of public scrutiny.
But when the dust settled, Republicans did reach ground on which they feel comfortable standing: Trump and his aides apparently were swept up in legal USA surveillance of foreign targets during the transition. It means that the official who made the request gets to see the name. And I think they are still recovering from that, but they are recovering now.
John Brennan, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, began in August secretly briefing top members of Congress on early, CIA-detected signs of possible collusion between Mr Trump's inner circle and the Russians. As Lake himself wrote: "The standard for senior officials to learn the names of US persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to nearly anything".