This is former National Security Adviser Susan Rice's self-defense for having sought the explicit exposure, in highly classified intelligence documents, of the names of USA citizens inadvertently caught up in American surveillance of Russian officials.
Is there any public evidence to support Trump's claim that Rice may have committed a crime? Rice said, adding Obama officials never used intelligence to spy on Trump officials for political purposes.
"There is an established process for senior national security officials to ask for the identity of USA persons in these reports", she added.
Her position as national security adviser had allowed her to request the unmasking, or the identifying of American citizens, in intelligence reports.
Also factor in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes's disclosure in a March 22 press conference that the names of Trump campaign or transition officials were demasked from NSA reports that had nothing to do with Russian Federation or alleged wrongdoing by the Trump campaign.
Rice has come under fire this week amid reports that she was responsible for the unmasking of the identities of Trump associates.
"There was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals", she said. Former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin also defended Rice, saying, "she was doing her job".More news: Phil Mickelson's gambler pal convicted: 'I'm in total shock'
"Now, whatever you think the former White House National Security Adviser has done wrong - if in fact she's done anything wrong at all - it's hard to imagine it could possibly amount to the biggest anything", Cooper continued. Often, such names are blanked out, or "masked" in such reports. Nunes has since said he was unsure whether associates of Trump participated in the intercepted communications or whether those persons were simply mentioned or referred to by others.
When a name is unmasked it is only provided to the official who requested it, and therefore unmasking is not equivalent to leaking the name.
President Trump addresses a joint news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II in the Rose Garden of the White House on April 5.
Neither does House Intelligence Committee Chair David Nunes. "I leaked nothing to nobody and never have and never would". "We believe this group of people were using national assets for politics and misappropriating them", said one NSA source.
National-security correspondent Jim Sciutto (who joined the network straight from the Obama administration) labeled it "a ginned-up scandal" and President Trump's "latest attempt" to "divert attention from his team's contacts with Russian Federation".
Rice did not detail which Trump officials she unmasked or why, but current and former USA officials have told ABC News it happened on a number of occasions.
Now, in a friendly interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, she denies unmasking anyone's identity "for any political purposes" - which basically confirms that her claim to know nothing about unmasking was far from true. Nunes has said he will not step down from his position as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. She had no need of operational intelligence in these cases.