Seven subpoenas issued in House Russia probe
The House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday issued seven new subpoenas in its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Four of the subpoenas are related directly to Russian meddling, which is also also the subject of probes from the Senate Intelligence Committee and FBI.
The other three focus on allegations of improper “unmasking” of Trump campaign officials, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Those three subpoenas went to the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency and are related to questions — primarily from Republicans — about how the names of associates of President Trump were un-redacted and distributed in classified Obama administration reports during the transition period.
The committee said in a statement that it had issued subpoenas to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and one company associated with the former intelligence official, Flynn Intel Group LLC; and longtime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and his firm, Michael D. Cohen & Associates PC.
The statement did not address the three subpoenas related to unmasking, reportedly related to requests made by former national security adviser Susan Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan and former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power.
Power has not previously been reported as a potential witness in the probe.
Normally, when government officials receive intelligence reports, the names of American citizens are redacted to protect their privacy. But officials can request that names — listed as “U.S. Person 1,” for example — be unmasked internally in order to give context about the potential value of the intelligence.
But Republicans want to know if any of those requests were politically motivated.
They have signaled that they see unmasking as the key to investigating the source of media leaks damaging to the Trump administration — such as the exposure of Flynn, who was forced to resign in February after media reports based on surveillance leaks revealed that he misled Vice President Pence about the contents of his discussions with the Russian ambassador.
The GOP seized on a Bloomberg View report in April that Rice had requested that at least one Trump transition team member be “unmasked,” leading to claims that the Obama White House had intended to use that intelligence to damage Trump’s transition.
Rice has denied any political manipulation of intelligence by the Obama administration.
Earlier in the year, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stepped back from the probe after making a clandestine trip to the White House to view documents he says revealed inappropriate unmasking of transition team officials.
The revelation quickly devolved into partisan infighting that threaten to derail the House panel’s investigation permanently. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) has taken over the probe in Nunes’s place, and the fracas has largely died down since.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is also investigating Russian interference in the election and has issued its own slate of subpoenas targeted at Flynn.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department appointed a special counsel to oversee the federal government’s probe following Trump’s surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey.
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