General H.R. McMaster allowed former National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, to keep her top-secret security clearance for about a month after news broke that Rice had potentially misused that clearance.
Former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice was given “unfettered and continuing access to classified information,” by McMaster. According to reports on Thursday, he even waived her “need-to-know” requirements on confidential documents she obtained during her tenure in the position.
In April of this year, news broke that Rice had asked for the identities of “masked” US individuals in confidential intelligence reports related to President Trump’s campaign and transition teams. Her actions have come under intense criticism and scrutiny from several congressional republicans, including chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who has asked for more information on the issue.
But Rice has repeatedly claimed that she did nothing wrong. “The allegation is that somehow the Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes. That’s absolutely false,” she said while talking to MSNBC in April.
According to various sources, McMaster’s directive was sent to Rice’s home towards the end of April, in an unclassified and undated letter. It has also been said that Trump was not aware of the letter.
“I hereby waive the requirement that you must have a ‘need-to-know’ to access any classified information contained in items you ‘originated, reviewed, signed, or received while serving,’ as national security adviser,” the letter said. “NSC will continue to work with you to ensure the appropriate security clearance documentation remains on file to allow you access to classified information.”
It isn’t unusual for certain senior government officials to receive such access to classified documents under federal law. However, White House officials now believe that given the speculations and suspicions regarding Rice, her access to top-secret intelligence reports should have been revoked or curtailed till the conclusion of the investigation.
“Basically, this letter which was signed in the last week of April undercuts the president’s assertion that Susan Rice’s unmasking activity was inappropriate. In essence, anybody who committed a violation as she did would not be given access to classified information,” a senior West Wing official said. “In fact, they would have their security clearance and right to ‘need-to-know’ stripped.”
Recently, it has been discovered that Rice was not the only Obama-era high ranking official who constantly attempt to unmask US individuals in raw intelligence community reports. It was just revealed that the former US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power attempted to unmask “hundreds’ of US persons during the last year of Obama’s government. Officials also believe it is uncanny for someone in her position to request for unmasking of US persons in intelligence reports linked to something totally out of her jurisdiction.