Rep. Trey Gowdy questioned FBI Director James Comey Monday during a House Intelligence Committee hearing about leaks of classified information to the media.
In reference to the taped call between Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador, the South Carolina lawmaker grilled Comey about who can “unmask” a U.S. citizen when collecting intelligence.
Gowdy would later point out that making a person’s identity publicly known when protected by law is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
He asked how many people are able to unmask a person and what other agencies have the authority to do so — besides the FBI, Comey named the NSA, CIA and the Justice Department.
He also said the White House can request the agency collecting the intelligence to unmask a person, but said they can’t do it on their own.
Gowdy named a number of people from the Obama administration, to include former national security adviser Susan Rice, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then-acting Attorney General Sally Yates, all of whom Comey confirmed would likely have had access to the name of an unmasked U.S. citizen.
He asked Comey if he briefed former President Barack Obama on any calls involving Flynn, but the director would not comment on his conversations with Obama.
Gowdy proceeded with the precision of a surgeon in discussing “nefarious motives” for leaking Flynn’s name, none of which reflected well on the last administration.
Regardless, Comey would not confirm whether an investigation into who unmasked Flynn is underway, although he confirmed earlier the bureau is investigating Trump campaign ties to Russia.
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