Samantha Power Takes Center Stage in Unmasking Investigation
Samantha Power has agreed to testify before a congressional panel, although an exact date has not yet been confirmed, a spokesman for the former ambassador told Fox News.
“Ambassador Power strongly supports any bipartisan effort to investigate and address Russia’s interference in our electoral process and she wanted to engage both House and Senate Committees charged with investigating it,” David Pressman, counsel to Power and partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, told Fox News. “Ambassador Power is very much looking forward to providing any assistance and encouragement she can to bipartisan efforts aimed at addressing this serious threat to our nation’s security.”
Red flags were immediately raised when House investigators identified Power as someone who was involved with the "unmasking" of Americans connected to the Trump campaign. She was President Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, not an intelligence analyst. What business did she have unmasking the names of Trump campaign/transition officials?
According to Fox News, several other Obama officials are appearing on Capitol Hill this week to testify behind closed doors as well:
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared before both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on Monday.
Former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough will also testify this week, Fox News was told.
But according to the Washington Free Beacon, House investigators now see Power as "central to efforts by top Obama administration officials" to unmask American citizens named in classified intelligence community reports related to Trump and his presidential transition team.
The names of Trump allies in the raw intelligence reports were leaked to the press in what many in Congress and the current administration claim is an attempt by Obama allies and former officials to damage the White House.
A former senior U.S. official told WFB: "Unmasking is not a regular occurrence—absolutely not a weekly habit. It is rare, even at the National Security Council, and ought to be rarer still for a U.N. ambassador."
"It might be defended when the communication in question relates directly to U.N. business, for example an important Security Council vote," explained the former official, who would only discuss the matter on background. "Sometimes it might be done out of other motives than national security, such as sheer curiosity or to defend a bureaucratic position. Or just plain politics."
The Intelligence Committee's focus of Power and other key Obama officials is a prime example of the Obama administration's efforts to spy on those close to Trump, according to sources familiar with the ongoing investigation.
"The subpoena for Power suggests just how pervasive the Obama administration's spying on Americans actually was," said one veteran GOP political operative who has been briefed on the matter by senior Congressional intelligence officials. "The U.N. ambassador has absolutely no business calling for the quantity and quality of the intelligence that Power seems to have been asking for."
The source questioned why Power would need to uncover such classified intelligence information in her role at the U.N.
"That's just not the sort of thing that she should have been concerned about, unless she was playing the role of political operative with the help of the intelligence community," the source said. "It gives away what was actually going on: the Obama administration was operating in a pervasive culture of impunity and using the intelligence community against their political opponents."
Rice was scheduled to speak to House Intelligence Committee this week, but the meeting was reportedly postponed. Some sources speculated this could be a delaying tactic by Rice aimed at pushing the testimony back until after Congress's summer recess.
Rice's testimony in the House on Tuesday was going to be held in a closed-door session, according to reports. Now Fox News is reporting that she will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed session as well.
Fox News judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano fumed on Fox Business Wednesday because Rice is being allowed to testify in private.
I have been fuming for several days now that we have the right to know,” he said. “The American public has the right to know what Susan Rice did, what the Congress knows about her and what the Congress will do.”
Making the testimony private will allow members of Congress to leak information, in his opinion.
“We are going to hear [a] leaked…Democrat version which will make her look good [and] a Republican version which will make her look bad,” he said, adding that in his opinion former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony allowed Americans to make their own judgment.
Don't anyone tell the judge, but apparently, all sessions with former Obama administration officials are set to be closed, according to sources on Capitol Hill.
Former House Intelligence Committee chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) appeared on Fox News Wednesday morning to discuss Samantha Power's role in the unmasking controversy.
"How much information in raw intelligence does the UN ambassador need to have?" Hoekstra asked Fox News host Bill Hemmer. "Did she get American names unmasked? Why would she need that kind of information? What were the topics?"
He continued: "Remember, this is information that if it were collected inside the United States, it would be illegally collected. This is surveillance of Americans -- their conversations overseas. There's no independent third-party adjudication of this. There's no warrant. I want to know what Samantha Power did. But I also want to know what's going on in the intelligence community. Is this a surveillance state that has been growing and developing over the last ten years?" he wondered.
Hemmer noted that Senators Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham have publicly complained that they think they were surveilled.
"This is a question that should be answered in about 24 hours," Hoekstra said. "And they've asked this question over the last four to six weeks. And I don't think they've still gotten an answer. Which leads me to believe that the intelligence community has something to hide."