WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday directly accused the Obama Administration of improper surveilling of the American people and said he wants answers as to who was behind it.
“The big story is the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ of people that took place during the Obama Administration,” the president tweeted in response to the announcement that subpoenas had been issued seeking records from U.S. spy agencies about Obama officials’ direct requests.
According to a report published by The Wall Street Journal (https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-intelligence-committee-said-to-have-issued-seven-subpoenas-in-russia-probe-1496261435), The House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas on Wednesday including one to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and another to President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen in relation to its probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
According to the Journal report, the panel was seeking specifics on the agencies’ “unmasking” procedures amid revelations that American citizens were improperly identified as a bi-product of government spying. Other agencies reportedly subpoenaed were the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA.
A source close to the case says the NSA, FBI and CIA subpoenas directly relate to former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, ex-CIA director John Brennan and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.
Rice, who has remained a central target of the investigation, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but the president and his administration clearly disagree.
In addition to the subpoenas, the Intelligence Committee sent a letter to former White House press aide Boris Epshteyn asking him to voluntarily submit any and all information he is in possession of regarding the matter.
“Like many others, Mr. Epshteyn has received a broad, preliminary request for information from the House Intelligence Committee,” an attorney for Epshteyn told the Journal. “This is a voluntary request. Mr. Epshteyn has not been subpoenaed, nor do we anticipate that he will be.”
The expansion in the committee’s investigation comes after months of accusations by Democrats that president Trump and key members of his campaign staff colluded with Russia to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
To date, no evidence has surfaced to support the allegations and the president has repeatedly denied those claims.