When the name of a US citizen is incidentally collected by the US Intelligence Community as part of intelligence activities, the name in masked in intelligence reports to protect the person’s identity. And then later on, if there is a vital need for a US government official to know who the person is, the official can request that the name can be unmasked, but only if they can cite a valid reason to do so.

Now on March 22, 2017, Republican Congressman Devin Nunes, then-Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, gave a press conference where he said that he presented President Trump with evidence that the Obama Administration had improperly unmasked the names of Trump Transition team officials. Nunes’ actions were heavily criticized, both because he did not share this information with Democrats on the committee, and because the information he presented to President Trump appeared to originate from the White House itself. This led to Nunes having to recuse himself from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation while he and his actions became the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation.

My question is, did Congressman Nunes ever publicly reveal any evidence of unmasking abuse by the Obama Administration related to Trump Transition team officials? In this July 27, 2017 letter to DNI Dan Coats, Nunes stated that his investigation into unmasking abuse was still ongoing, and I seem to recall another statement from him to that effect some time in 2018.

But has Nunes ever addressed what became of this unmasking abuse investigation? Note that this is distinct from alleged “FISA abuse”, which is another issue that Nunes is famous for raising.

  • This seems like more of a Skeptics kind of question, since it's really asking about the accuracy of a published statement by Nunes.
    – divibisan
    Nov 6, 2019 at 20:01
  • 1
    Isn't the IG (Inspector General) investigating something? It could be related to this.
    – Sjoerd
    Nov 7, 2019 at 3:21
  • @Sjoerd The IG is investigating FISA abuse, specifically the use of the Christopher Steele dossier to obtain a FISA warrant on Carter Page. This is a separate issue, in fact Devin Nunes said in that press conference that the intelligence reports where Trump transition team people’s names were unmasked were unrelated to the Russia investigation. (Whereas the Carter Page FISA was obtained as part of the Russia investigation.) Nov 11, 2019 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


There has never been any actionable intelligence that anything inappropriate was leaked about Trump's transition team. Both Republicans and Democrats have looked at the data and have found no impropriety.

One congressional intelligence source described the requests made by Rice as “normal and appropriate” for officials who serve in that role to the president.

And another source said there’s “absolutely” no smoking gun in the reports, urging the White House to declassify them to make clear there was nothing alarming in the documents.

James Comey later testified under oath that nothing improper occurred.

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