President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Congressional investigators she “unmasked” the identity of top Trump officials over an undisclosed meeting they had with the prince of the United Arab Emirates, CNN has learned.
Sources told CNN that Rice made the disclosure to the House Intelligence Committee last week.
CNN said Zayed “arrived in NY last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon”, citing multiple sources who wished to remain anonymous.
Rice, who was then national security adviser under President Obama, requested the names of the Americans mentioned in a classified report about the NY visit to be revealed internally – after the UAE government did not inform the government that the prince was coming to the country.
CNN sources confirmed that, since the UAE failed to inform the government that Zayed would be coming, as was standard procedure when dignitaries visit, the Obama Administration felt misled.
Rice has been at the center of the controversy over unmasking.
Therefore, any Americans identified in intelligence reports about the meeting were unmasked. But officials can request that names – listed as “U.S. Person 1”, for example – be unmasked internally in order to give context about the potential value of the intelligence.
The House panel’s probe has grown to encompass concerns with the practice, which some committee Republicans consider too permissive for senior officials.
Even though details of Rice’s classified testimony remain unknown, the meeting in NY raises questions about whether Trump transition officials discussed anything Russia-related to in their NY meeting with Zayed.
“I didn’t hear anything to believe that she did anything illegal”, Rooney said.
The meeting with Zayed was of particular interest to USA officials because it came just before the UAE helped set up a line of communications between the US and Russian governments.
The Washington Post reported in April that the Prince meeting was part of an effort to convince Russian Federation to alter its relationship with Iran.
It’s unclear which officials Rice discussed at the interview with House Intelligence investigators earlier this month, according to CNN.
‘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 USA role should be, ‘ the official told CNN.
The December Trump Tower meeting, which took place in the transition period between the Obama and Trump administrations, happened before the UAE brokered a meeting to open lines of communication between Russian Federation and the United States.