The true reasoning behind Susan Rice’s unmasking of senior Trump officials may have just been revealed.
Last December, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan was in New York during the transition period before Trump was sworn into office. He attended a meeting with top Trump officials Michael Flynn, Jared Kushner, and Steve Bannon.
This meeting followed separate UAE efforts to establish a back-channel communication between the incoming Trump administration and Russia. Two sources claim that the meeting focused on Iran, Yemen, and Mideast peace- insisting that a back-channel with Russia was not discussed.
“The meeting was about ascertaining the Trump team's view of the region and sharing the UAE's view of the region and what the US role should be,” an official said. “No one was coming in to sell anything or arrange anything.”
The United Arab Emirates failed to notify the Obama administration of Zayed’s visit to the United States, despite the fact that it is customary to inform the US government of foreign dignitaries’ travel plans to the country- raising concerns among investigators on Capitol Hill.
Last week Obama’s national security adviser during his second term, Susan Rice, told the House Intelligence Committee that she requested that the names of the Americans who were mentioned in the classified report be internally revealed.
What’s Happening Now:
Rice’s recent disclosure has brought attention to the practice of “unmasking”, a practice that both California Representative Devin Nunes and Donald Trump have criticized, both having previously accused Rice of committing a crime.
She has been called before the House Intelligence Committee to testify against Nunes and other Republicans who believe her disclosure was an abuse of the practice. Internally revealing the names of individuals in classified reports does not mean their identities will be publicly revealed- Rice has confirmed she didn’t leak classified information to the press.
Representative Trey Gowdy, another Republican leading the investigation, said “nothing that came up in her interview that led me to conclude” that she inappropriately unmasked the names or leaked information to the press.
She explained that her decision to unmask the names of US individuals, Trump associates, was over concerns about the Zayed's unknown visit to the US. Her explanation of the situation seems to have justified her actions among many influential Republicans on the committee, disregarding both Nunes’s and Trump’s accusations.
Tom Rooney, a Republican aiding in the Russia investigation said “I didn't hear anything to believe that she did anything illegal,”, later declining to discuss the contents of Rice’s classified testimony.
Although Rice herself is a spokeswoman, she declined to comment on her testimony. When asked about Rice on Tuesday night, Nunes refused to answer questions.
Nunes was forced to step down from leading the Russia investigation after he was suspected of improperly disclosing classified information. Nunes said that Obama administration officials had inappropriately revealed the names of Trump associates, a revelation Trump used to fuel his claim that Obama has the Trump Tower wiretapped throughout the election.
On Tuesday, Mike Conaway, the Republican who took over the investigation from Nunes said there was no reason to bring Rice back in for further questioning.
“She was a good witness, answered all our questions,” he said, “I'm not aware of any reason to bring her back.”