Rice Unmasked Trump Staffers After UAE Prince's Visit

Frederick Owens
September 15, 2017

Rice said the crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahya, made the trip to NY without informing the Obama administration, which piqued the intelligence community's curiosity.

CNN first reported Thursday that Ms. Rice told a closed-door session of the House intelligence committee last week about an unmasking incident in December.

An individual described by CNN as a "senior Middle East official" told the network's Manu Raju that the UAE did not "mislead" the Obama administration about the crown prince's travel, though acknowledged that the United States government was not notified in advance of the December 2016 trip.

"It's consistent with the president's allegations and the unmasking seems to have occurred at about the same time that mysteriously portions of the transcript of a telephone conversation between Mike Flynn, then President-Elect Donald Trump's pick for national security advisor and [Sergey] Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States mysteriously appeared in the Washington Post", Napolitano said.

Responding to accusations from House intelligence chairman Rep. Devin Nunes on March 22 that the Obama administration was gleaning "a lot of information on the president-elect and his transition team and what they were doing", Rice pleaded ignorance.

Sources told CNN that the crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, met with several top Trump officials including Michael Flynn, the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon.

Rice said she was bothered by that meeting and the timing, because the UAE delegation had asked for a meeting with then-President Obama and then canceled, supposedly because they weren't coming to the US - only for the crown prince to quietly see the Trump team.

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Even though the meeting was somehow perceived as an effort to insert Russians into the Trump transition team, it turned out there wasn't a Russian in the bunch.

The combative former national security adviser has long insisted that any unmasking was for legitimate security purposes.

"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", a Middle East official told CNN. This sparked Ms. Rice's inquiries into intelligence reports of the meeting and who was there.

Unmasking is not illegal, although leaking unmasked names are illegal. I think it's important that when a witness does a good job, you tell people she did a good job. "I'm not aware of any reason to bring her back".

"There are some who will continue to push unmasking", Mr. Schiff said.

Investigators close to the unmasking issue vowed that the fight would continue. Capitol Hill investigators are now scrutinizing the meeting.

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