House Intel Sends Unmasking Subpoenas As Russia Probe Escalates

Posted June 05, 2017

Another senior committee aide said any subpoenas related to the unmasking issue would have been sent by committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation after being criticized for being too close to the White House.

In the end, the source of the documents turned out to be the White House, and Nunes stepped away from the Russian Federation probe when the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating Nunes himself for revealing classified information.

But House Intelligence committee staff members would not confirm the reports, and one said whatever subpoenas might have been issued were not part of the committee's Russian Federation probe and had not been approved by the Democrats on the committee. The subpoenas ask the CIA, FBI and NSA to provide information about requests to "unmask" redacted names of USA persons in intelligence reports.

Nunes, who would have had to sign off on any committee requests to reveal the identities of USA persons mentioned in intelligence reports, called unmaskings "violations of Americans' civil liberties" last week.

A senior House Republican aide noted Friday that Nunes never promised to "recuse" himself - citing the legal definition of the word - and added that Nunes, who is still the chairman of the House intelligence committee, has a duty to investigate whether USA residents had their names revealed in classified intelligence reports, an issue pushed hard by Trump in response to the Russian Federation investigations.

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These are the first subpoenas issued in the "Russia probe" so far.

Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, is under scrutiny in the FBI's investigation, fired FBI Director James Comey will testify before Congress next week about a conversation he had in which the president asked him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

That Nunes has launched a new investigation into a process called "unmasking" at this time is somewhat surprising.

The once-uncommon practice grew steadily under President George W. Bush as policymakers received a flood of post-9/11 intelligence, according to an April report in Foreign Policy. He also blasted Nunes for "unilaterally" issuing the three subpoenas related to unmasking requests.

In 2016, the NSA released the identities of 1,934 US persons gathered under a particular surveillance program in response to unmasking requests, according to a transparency report released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence earlier this year.

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Those subpoenas were unusual because congressional committees typically request documents from government departments and only seek to compel them with subpoenas if they do not cooperate.

"Seeing a lot of fake news from media elites and others who have no interest in violations of Americans' civil liberties via unmaskings", Nunes tweeted.

Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee blocked interviews of key witnesses in the committee's ongoing investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election, Politico reported Thursday, citing sources.

Lawmakers are likely to ask Comey about his interactions with Trump as the bureau pursued its investigation into his campaign's contacts. He is still signing the committes's subpoenas, however.

James Comey, fired last month as FBI director amid a federal investigation into connections between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, is set to testify next Thursday at a highly anticipated congressional hearing that could shed light on his private conversations with the president in the weeks before his dismissal. "But the minority continue to object claiming they aren't ready".

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Oh yeah, imported nuisance Nigel Farage seems to be on the FBI's radar, which indicates that the investigation is going global with an eye toward tracing the connections between the Russian ratfcking, the role of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and various rightwing candidates of many lands.