Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, on Wednesday declined Sen. Lindsey Graham’s request to participate in a judiciary subcommittee hearing next week on Russian interference in the US election. In a letter from Rice’s lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler outlines the grounds for her decision not to appear. It was addressed to Graham, the Republican chairman of the judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism, which is holding the hearing, and senior Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse.
Susan Rice not being cooperative makes her look guilty.
“Senator Whitehouse has informed us by letter that he did not agree to Chairman Graham’s invitation to Ambassador Rice, a significant departure from the bipartisan invitations extended to other witnesses,” Ruemmler wrote. “Under these circumstances, Ambassador Rice respectfully declines Senator Graham’s invitation to testify.”
Rice considered the invitation a “diversionary play” to distract attention from the investigation into Russian election interference, including contacts between Trump allies and Russians during the campaign, the source said.
Graham first told CNN’s Manu Raju before the letter was sent that he had invited Rice before the Senate panel to determine whether the Obama administration “tried to politicize intelligence” — part of his broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.
Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are set to testify.
Republicans have raised concerns that Rice may have acted improperly while she was national security adviser by seeking to learn the identities of Trump officials discussing matters with foreign officials related to the Trump transition.
Those officials were caught up in US intelligence surveillance of the foreign officials and had their identities unmasked after at first being referred to anonymously in the intelligence records.
President Donald Donald Trump at one point alleged Rice broke the law by requesting the unmasking of US individuals’ identities. Trump had claimed the matter was a “massive story.”
But Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides have so far found no evidence that Obama administration officials did anything unusual or illegal.
Despite declining the appearance, Rice’s lawyer assured Graham and Whitehouse in the letter that she was “prepared to assist Congressional inquiries into Russian election interference because of the important national interests at stake, provided they are conducted in a bipartisan manner, and, as appropriate, in a classified session.”