With a special counselor already at work investigating his campaign’s potential ties to Russia and the former head of the FBI set to testify before Congress on the issue in the coming days, President Donald Trump on Thursday insisted again that “the big story” remains the alleged “unmasking and surveillance” conducted by the administration of former President Barack Obama.
Trump’s assertion, posted to Twitter, comes one day after the House Intelligence Committee issued seven subpoenas, four of which were related to Russian interference in last year’s election and the possibility of collusion between the Kremlin and individuals with ties to Trump. Three others were related to “unmasking,” the process by which intelligence officials learn the names of Americans reference in intelligence reports.
“The big story is the ‘unmasking and surveillance’ of people that took place during the Obama Administration,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
While the focus of much scrutiny from government investigations and the media has been on the ongoing Russia probes, it is unmasking and other surveillance activities that have been a concern for the president in the months since he took office, accusing Obama administration officials of using the unmasking process for political purposes to target Trump campaign and transition officials. Former national security adviser Susan Rice, the Obama administration official often at the center of the unmasking complaints, has denied using any intelligence materials or procedures for political purposes.
Trump has also accused Obama of illegally surveilling his Manhattan skyscraper in the weeks leading up to the campaign, although the president has offered no proof for his allegation and government officials have said they were unaware of any such activity.