Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power tried to reveal the identity of more than 260 Americans in 2016, according to a Fox News report published Wednesday.
The ex-public official allegedly averaged more than one unmasking request for each formal working day, even continuing her spree towards the final days of the Obama administration.
The House Intelligence Committee’s unmasking probe named Power as a person of interest, along with former Obama national security advisers Susan Rice and Ben Rhodes, as well as former CIA Director John Brennan. Congressional investigators suspect that at least one of them may have tried to obtain the identities of Trump associates through intelligence reports.
The people of interest are all expected to testify before Congress in October, Fox News reports, but likely in classified sessions.
NSA Director Mike Rogers said earlier in March that 20 people at the NSA, along with a few officials at the FBI, the CIA and the U.S. Department of Justice, have the ability to “unmask” Americans whose communications are entangled with the communications of a foreigner.
In a letter to Dan Coats, the director of the office of national intelligence, California Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican, wrote that investigators within the House Intelligence Committee “learned that one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration.” He did not specify, however, who the particular person is and what their proper jurisdiction and responsibility was due to their position.
Power’s lawyer, David Pressman, has said that “Ambassador Power was also a member of the National Security Council responsible for advising the President on the full-range of threats confronting the United States,” according to Fox News. But he denied any wrongdoing for his client, stating that “any insinuation that Ambassador Power was involved in leaking classified information is absolutely false.”
Nunes also contended that senior Obama administration officials, “offered remarkably few individualized justifications” for the unmasking requests, and added that some “were followed by anonymous leaks of those names to the media.”