For all the talk of impropriety by Gen. Michael Flynn, the mainstream media oddly appears to be tiptoeing around new developments related to his counterpart, former national security adviser Susan Rice.
On Wednesday, CNN reported that it had exclusively obtained a letter written by Susan Rice’s lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, which notified Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), chairman of the judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, of Rice’s decision to decline an invitation to testify at a hearing on Russian interference in the U.S. election.
Her reasoning for not participating in the hearing would be outrageous if it wasn’t so funny.
Rice’s lawyer claims Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the ranking member of the judiciary subcommittee, personally informed her client that he did not agree with Sen. Graham’s decision to invite her to testify at the hearing next week.
“I don’t believe that Dr. Rice’s participation is germane to the topic of this hearing, and I believe her presence would be a distraction from the critical issues at hand,” Whitehouse told CNN. “I fully support her decision not to testify.”
Rice has been at the center of the “unmasking” controversy for weeks now, dating back to President Trump’s infamous tweet accusing former President Obama of intentionally spying on his campaign during the 2017 presidential election.
At the time, politicians from both parties pressed Trump to provide more evidence to back up his wiretapping allegation.
A few hours after the tweet, Sen. Graham told a South Carolina town hall that he was “very worried that [President Trump] is suggesting the former president has done something illegal.” He also promised his constituents that he would “get to the bottom” of it.
Rice herself, in an appearance on PBS NewsHour, called into question the president’s claim.
“Nothing of the sort occurred, and we have heard that confirmed by the director of the FBI, who also pointed out that no president, no White House can order the surveillance of another American citizen,” Rice stated.
The day following these separate, unaffiliated reports, Rice made a rare public appearance on MSNBC to double down on denial that she had committed any wrongdoing.
Nevertheless, here we are one month later and Rice is declining an invitation to testify and set the record straight once and for all. Maybe it’s just her reluctance to answer pointed questions under oath, but this entire back-and-forth between Rice, her lawyer, CNN and Sen. Whitehouse, reeks of dishonesty.
I don’t know whether or not former President Obama ordered monitoring of the Trump campaign. What I do know is that decisions like the one Susan Rice made to not testify do nothing to help change the optics in their favor. If anything, it reinforces the public’s growing perception that Obama engaged in partisan surveillance of his successor, using the intel community’s vast array of cyber weaponry to do so.
Oh, and reports like this one are just icing on the cake.
So maybe Susan Rice didn’t exactly plead the Fifth. But did this help inspire confidence in anyone that she won’t rush to do so when the time comes?
If her lawyers have their way, she’ll never be forced to make that decision.