The plot thickens. Jay Sekulow, Trump’s lawyer and long-time conservative activist, sued to get Obama’s ‘Unmasker in chief’ Samatha Power’s emails.
Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power has a strange history. Her name was used as the authority for unmasking hundreds of American names in 2016 including some in the Trump campaign.
She inexplicably told Congress she did not request many of the unmaskings saying people could have used her name as justification.
From The Hill: Former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power may share an unflattering stage with a text-loving FBI agent and his Donald Trump-hating paramour from the bureau.
Fired agent Peter Strzok and ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page are infamous today for texting on FBI phones their anti-Trump sentiments while allegedly having an affair. They played key roles in the now-debunked Russia collusion investigation.
It turns out that Power — the diplomat whose authority inexplicably was used to unmask hundreds of Americans’ names in secret intelligence reports during the 2016 election — engaged in similar Trump-bashing on her official government email, according to documents unearthed by an American Center for Law and Justice lawsuit. The conservative legal group is run by Trump defense attorney Jay Sekulow.
The discovery could add a new dimension — a question of political bias — to a long-running congressional investigation into why Power’s authority was used to unmask hundreds of Americans’ names in secret National Security Agency intercepts during the 2016 election. That practice of unmasking continues to grow today.
“I am discouraged and frightened. Electing a right-wing president is something, but such a morally repugnant bully!” read a Nov. 14, 2016, email to Power from a sender whose name the State Department redacted for privacy reasons. The email referred to former Trump strategist Steve Bannon as “an avowed racist” and predicted, “The worst is coming.”
In December 2016, for example, when sent a news story about Trump’s effort to communicate a new policy direction for the U.N., Power snarkily replied: “This reflects the lack of understanding of history.”
When Trump announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from a global climate deal, Power emailed a colleague: “Lord help us all.”
And when a routine diplomatic issue with Japan arose in late November 2016, Power emailed another colleague: “It is unreal how the Trump dynamic has changed things.”
CBS’ Bill Owens, then executive editor of “60 Minutes,” and Power’s staff exchanged a series of emails about how a prospective interview could include the Syrian refugee crisis to focus attention on Trump’s immigration stance.
“We think they might still be interested because this shows the flip side of the story, how refugees are actually contributing to American communities, with the hook being the foreshadowing that Trump and Company may try to undo all this,” Steinberg wrote Power.
She responded, “Yes, unfortunately. Will see what else I can put up w.”
Owens replied a few days later that perhaps they could discuss the interview after the Thanksgiving holiday. “I can only imagine the conversations you are having with some of our allies now and I would love a chance to brainstorm,” he wrote.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Government Oversight Committee, told me that the emails’ expressed bias and the use of government speeches, interviews and events to counter Trump might warrant an investigation into whether any conduct violated the Hatch Act’s prohibition on engaging in political activities on government time.
But the most important impact of the emails may lie in the ongoing investigation into the Obama administration’s unmasking of American names in secret foreign intelligence reports.
Congressional investigators confirmed more than two years ago that there was a massive spike between 2014 and 2016 in the number of names Obama officials asked be unmasked, including dozens involving Trump campaign and transition officials.
Though Power’s U.N. job did not have regular intelligence-gathering responsibilities, her name was invoked as the authority for unmasking hundreds of American names in 2016 — averaging more than one American name per day, the investigation found.
When Power was questioned last summer, she gave congressional investigators an unsettling answer: She claimed that she did not specifically request many of the unmaskings and that other government officials must have used her name as a justification.
Multiple congressional investigations continue to pursue how and why those unmaskings occurred, and whether any led to damaging leaks such as the January 2017 publication of secret intercepts between Russia’s ambassador and then-Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn.
Power’s obvious anti-Trump predisposition in the emails raises questions about a political motive for the unmaskings done under her authority, several congressional investigators told me.