Donald Trump says the “unmasking and surveillance” of people under the Obama administration is “the big story,” just one day after subpoenas were issued over the naming of Trump campaign officials in classified reports while Obama was still in office.
“The big story is the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ of people that took place during the Obama Administration,” US President Trump tweeted on Thursday.
It comes just one day after the House Intelligence Committee issued three subpoenas which seek information about how and why the names of Trump associates were revealed and distributed within classified reports by Obama administration officials during the transition period after the election – a process known as “unmasking.”
The three subpoenas – issued to the CIA, FBI, and National Security Agency (NSA) – explicitly name three top Obama-era officials: Susan Rice, who served as White House national security advisor, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former UN ambassador Samantha Power.
The subpoenas ask the agencies to provide details of any requests made by the three individuals to “unmask” the names of Trump’s associates, congressional sources told Reuters on Wednesday.
The names of US citizens who are caught up in incidental surveillance are protected by law. Very few exceptions are made to unmask them, even within classified material.
Meanwhile, the “surveillance” referred to in Trump’s tweet likely refers to the president’s claims that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 presidential campaign, and the revelations by NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, which revealed the agency’s widespread surveillance techniques.
Four additional subpoenas were issued on Wednesday, relating to alleged Russian meddling in the presidential election. The requests were issued to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and the law firm Michael D. Cohen & Associates PC, according to Representatives Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and Adam Schiff (D-California).