- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Republican lawmakers made their first official inquiry into opening an investigation of reports the Obama administration’s national security adviser and others “unmasked” several Trump campaign officials swept up in U.S. surveillance operations against foreign targets during last year’s presidential election campaign.

“The astonishing reports that senior White House officials in the Obama Administration, most notably then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice, may have abused their powers of office to violate the 4th Amendment protections by ‘unmasking’ the identities of U.S. citizens involved with the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign in intelligence reports gives great cause for concern,” stated a letter Rep. Brian Babin sent to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday.

Ms. Rice finds herself embroiled in allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 election and whether the Obama White House potentially leaked what it knew about the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin. Ms. Rice has denied charges that her actions were politically motivated or tied to any organized scheme to compile dirt on the Trump campaign.

The explosive revelation has touched a nerve in Washington and stirred speculation that she could be called to testify on Capitol Hill about Russian election meddling.

On Wednesday Mr. Babin, Texas Republican, asked Mr. Sessions to consider an independent inquiry.

“Ms. Rice and any others who may have been involved with these activities should be called to account to explain their actions,” he wrote. “If the facts do show that indeed these powers were abused, those responsible should be held fully accountable in a fair, impartial and independent inquiry.”

SEE ALSO: Susan Rice at center of controversy again after ‘unmasking’

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, first announced the revelation and later stepped down from the probe.

A review by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides of the intelligence reports that Mr. Nunes initially brought to light has so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal, multiple sources in both parties told CNN on Tuesday.

• Dan Boylan can be reached at dboylan@washingtontimes.com.

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