Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice told investigators that a mysterious meeting from an Emirati crown prince prompted her to “unmask” members of Team Trump.
The Obama administration official told members of the House of Representative that she wanted to understand why Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan came to New York in December, CNN reported Wednesday.
Rice’s reported decision to internally reveal the names of Americans in intelligence documents has become a focus of some conservatives following the broad investigations into alleged Russian election meddling.
The names are normally kept secret when the U.S. is connecting intelligence on foreign targets, and some have accused her of “unmasking” the names to leak information to the press.
Rice has denied misappropriately using intelligence, and said that she has not leaked any classified info.
The practice of names being revealed internally is common, however, and CNN reported that Rice told House Intelligence Committee members last week that her use of it stemmed from Zayed’s December meeting with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, strategist Steve Bannon and future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Officials from the United Arab Emirates broke with tradition and did not tell the Obama administration about the visit to New York, which was first reported by the Washington Post in April.
The crown prince had not commented publicly on the CNN report as of Wednesday night.
Zayed reportedly acted as an envoy for Trump ahead of another meeting in January in the Seychelles, remote islands in the Indian Ocean, where the Post said that Blackwater founder and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s brother Erik Prince met with an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Prince denies acting for the Trump campaign or administration during his island excursion. It was not immediately clear what was discussed.
Investigations in the House, Senate, FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office are currently looking into alleged election meddling and whether Trump’s campaign colluded in any way with Moscow.
Both Kushner and Flynn, who resigned in February over his contacts with then Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, have become centers of the probe.
Trump has called the investigations a “witch hunt” and said in April, citing no evidence, that Rice may have committed a crime by getting the names of his associates.
Florida Republican Rep. Tom Rooney told CNN that he did not hear anything in Rice’s testimony that suggested she did something illegal.