Hewitt asked Cotton about a recent editorial from The Wall Street Journal which questioned why Rice requested the unmaskings, and claimed an anonymous source revealed that "Ms. Rice also examined dozens of other intelligence summaries that technically masked Trump official identities but were written in such a way as to make obvious who those officials were".
Senior US officials later said that Rice's comments were based on an intelligence assessment that was eventually updated to reflect a preliminary view that demonstrators were not the culprits.
Still, the White House has appeared to find other ways to promote the idea that Obama officials were conducting improper surveillance of Trump's team.
In its closing days, the Obama Administration scrambled to preserve as much intelligence as it could about Russian Federation and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. "I was surprised to see reports from [House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes] on that count today".
The bar is high too because there has to be a legitimate intelligence reason to justify identifying the person or persons. So they're giving it to me, if I read it, and I think that in order for me to really understand is it significant or not so significant, I need to understand who the USA person is, I can make that request.
Trump and his Republican supporters want FBI and Congressional investigations to target claims that Obama spied on his successor, rather than Moscow's interference in the election. He is the author of "Peacekeeping Fiascos of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions and U.S. Interests" (Praeger, May 30, 2002).
Rice added that it's not unusual to request the identities of people caught on intelligence surveillance.
The identities of US persons in intelligence reports are normally "masked", or redacted, but can be unmasked under certain circumstances.
According to the story, White House lawyers learned in March that Rice had requested the identities of USA residents whose names were collected during investigations of others.
The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan - essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes.
"I believe Susan Rice abused the system and she did it for political purposes".
She maintained, however, that asking for more information about names included in intelligence reports was a routine and necessary aspect of her job in protecting American security. "Nor will we aid and abet the people trying to misinform you, the American people, by creating a diversion". "To not understand it would be a dereliction of duty". And the fact is that this latest unmasking episode is a smokescreen to distract from the broader issue - which is that the President of the United States made a completely unfounded and very serious allegation against his immediate predecessor.