Susan Rice, who served as ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser in the Obama administration, gave her first interview on Tuesday after it was reported that she requested that the names of Trump campaign officials swept up in intelligence surveillance be unmasked. She denied that the Obama White House “played politics” with the intelligence.
“The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes. That’s absolutely false,” Rice told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “The notion, which some people are trying to suggest, that by asking for the identity of the American person is the same is leaking it—that’s completely false. There is no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking.
“I leaked nothing to nobody,” she also told Mitchell emphatically. But when Rice was asked if she did, in fact, ask for Trump campaign officials’ names to be unmasked she admitted she had. “Absolutely not for any political purposes to spy, expose, anything,” she added.
Rice’s argument, in other words, is that she requested that Trump campaign officials be unmasked not for political reasons but because intelligence reports suggested they may have been doing something illegal. The Trump White House and the right have been giddy ever since it became clear that Rice was behind the unmasking—though there is nothing that ties her to the leaking of classified information. It increasingly looks like Trump campaign officials were unmasked not because of who they were but because of what they were suspected of doing.