Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday evening said that he had asked the Senate Intelligence Committee to look into reports that Susan Rice asked for the names of Trump associates to be unmasked in intelligence reports.

That may mean she enjoys few defenders from the Obama era or the current administration, although Rice was not reticent this week in firing back on her own.

"I leaked nothing to nobody, and never have and never would", she said.

Rice on Tuesday rejected allegations that the Obama White House inappropriately spied on - and exposed - President Trump or members of his transition team.

"The charges [against Nunes] are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of USA citizens and other abuses of power", he said.

Rice, in an interview with MSNBC, acknowledged that she sometimes asked for the names of Americans referenced in reports.

Some Republican lawmakers called this week for Rice to be subpoenaed to testify before a congressional committee. Flynn was sacked after it became clear that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others about the content of those discussions.

According to a USA official, Rice asked spy agencies to give her the names of Trump associates who surfaced in intelligence reports she was regularly briefed on. It was Rice who may have leaked classified details from that surveillance to the press, it alleges.

In January, the Justice Department and intelligence officials agreed on new rules giving more US agencies access to raw information picked up overseas by the National Security Agency.

Cohen-Watnick raised his findings about Rice with the White House counsel's office, according to the official.

Rice also denied knowledge that the Trump administration surveilled Trump associates last month on PBS's "News Hour".

Trump did not repeat his claim at a White House news conference shortly after the Times interview.

It's unclear if the information Nunes received is the same as the materials involving Rice.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia told NPR's Mary Louise Kelly on Thursday that he and his committee would pursue the evidence in their investigation wherever it leads, but that so far nothing substantiates the White House's Rice storyline.

Graham and his colleagues pilloried Rice following the 2012 attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, after she appeared on TV in Washington and said the deadly raid had been caused by protests over an incendiary anti-Muslim video. Strictly speaking, it isn't: FBI Director James Comey and the chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence committees all say there was no wiretap of Trump. The identities of Americans who talk with those foreigners, or who are discussed in conversations between two non-U.S. persons, are masked in intelligence reports. Americans deserve a credible accounting of the interference in last year's election, including all the people who might have been involved with it, he said.

"When it comes to Susan Rice, you need to verify, not trust", said Sen.