During an interview on Fox News, Woodward said that if that information about the unmasking is true, “it is a gross violation.”
“You can learn all kinds of things from diplomats gossiping, because that’s what occurs. Under the rules, and they are pretty strict, it’s called minimization. You don’t name the American person who is being discussed,” Woodward said.
He noted that there are about 20 people in the intelligence community who, for intelligence reasons, can order this “minimization” be removed.
“But the idea that there was intelligence value here is really thin,” Woodward said. “It’s, again, down the middle, it is not what Trump said, but this could be criminal on the part of people who decided, oh, let’s name these people.”
I found it interesting to watch this exchange again given the news from yesterday:
Time to Investigate Obama, not Just Trump
A fair amount of this happened not long before Barack Obama suddenly changed the rules regarding raw intelligence, for the first time ever allowing the NSA to share its data with 16 other intelligence agencies, thus making the dissemination of said data (i. e. leaking) many times more likely. That was done on January 12, 2017, just three scant days before Trump’s inauguration. Why did the then president finally decide to make that particular change at that extremely late date, rather than on one of the previous seven years and three hundred fifty-three days of his presidency? You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes or Watson to smell a rat. Something’s rotten somewhere — and it’s not Denmark.
Whether Barack Obama ordered the surveillance of Donald Trump during the transition is not the question. He would never have had to. In fact, he would have been highly unlikely to have done so for obvious legal and practical/political reasons. Instead, supporters of the then president in a position to authorize or activate such surveillance would normally know or assume his wishes anyway without having to be told and could act accordingly.
That is the way of the world since there was a world.
The operative question is whether these recorded conversations then ever wound up on Obama’s desk or whether he knew about them in some other manner… and, if so, when. If the worst is true, it is a scandal that makes Watergate seem like a child’s prank. Even Watergate’s own Bob Woodward seemed to acknowledge as much on The O’Reilly Factor on Wednesday night.
h/t Daniel Higdon