Donald Trump on Thursday continued his quest to divert attention away from the multiple investigations into Russian interference in 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with his campaign to his bogus claim that former president Barack Obama “wire tapped” Trump Tower in last year.
Discussing Susan Rice aboard Air Force One, Trump once again argued the former Obama national security adviser improperly unmasked members of his team under his predecessor.
“She’s not supposed to be doing that and what she did was wrong,” Trump told reports. “We’ve been saying that. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. She wasn’t supposed to be doing that, the unmasking and the surveillance.”
“I heard she admitted that yesterday,” he added.
Au contraire, Mr. President. According to CNN, Rice met with House investigators Wednesday to defend her “unmasking” of senior Trump officials—a process that sounds nefarious, but has been described by experts as routine. During her testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Rice explained she “unmasked” top Trump aides in an effort to learn why United Arab Emirates crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was in New York City in December.
As it turns out, Zayed was in town to attend a meeting between former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and former chief White House strategist Steve Bannon. As CNN reports, that meeting took place shortly before a separate Trump Tower meeting where Bannon, Flynn and Kushner tried to establish a backchannel line of communication between the Trump team and Russian government officials.
Top Republicans, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC), have insisted there is nothing “there” regarding Trump’s “wiretap” claim, despite the president claiming he felt “somewhat vindicated” by documents related to Rice’s unmasking of Trump campaign officials.
“The unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes (R-CA),” Burr told reporters in July, referring to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes famously claimed to recuse himself from the committee’s Russia investigation, only to launch his own shadow investigation of Rice and the Obama administration.
Nunes was a member of the executive committee on Trump’s transition team.