Much of the nation is currently focused on Sean Spicer’s sudden resignation as White House Press Secretary, which came immediately after the announcement that Anthony Scaramucci, a Harvard Law School Graduate, was made the White House Director of Communications by President Donald Trump.
Because of this, the closed-door meeting Susan Rice, the former National Security Advisor under Obama, had with Senators was not given much attention. The meeting was reportedly about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, her role in the unmasking of United States officials, and the subsequent leaking of their names
Erin Pelton, a spokesperson for Rice, who also served as Obama’s US ambassador to the United Nations, confirmed that the private meeting took place. “Ambassador Rice met voluntarily with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence today as part of the committee’s bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election,” stated Pelton, adding, “Ambassador Rice appreciates the Committee’s efforts to examine Russia’s efforts to interfere, which violated one of the core foundations of American democracy.”
Rice’s involvement in the leaking of “unmasked” names was revealed earlier this year. During an internal investigation into government surveillance, the National Security Council (NSC) concluded that Rice was one of the people responsible for revealing the identities of specific U.S. people related to President Trump’s campaign in raw intelligence reports.
Unsurprisingly, when the NSC’s discovery was revealed, many were outraged. One of the people most upset by the news was Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). He was among the first to call on Rice to testify under oath. “If it is allowed, we shouldn’t be allowing it, but I don’t think we should just discount how big a deal it is that Susan Rice was looking at these,“ reasoned Paul. “And she needs to be asked, ‘Did President Obama ask her to do this? Was this a directive from President Obama? I think she should testify under oath on this,” he added.
Unfortunately, since the meeting was held in private, it’s unclear whether or not she was asked Paul’s questions. If she didn’t, then congressmen need to set up another meeting. If she did, then her answers, even under oath, need to be taken with a grain of salt. This is because Rice has a massive credibility issue.
For example, in the past, she wrongly blamed the Benghazi attack on an offensive video spread around the internet. Specifically, in an interview on ABC, she called the attack a “reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.” However, since her statement, it has been confirmed that it was a premeditated and coordinated attack.
She also spoke out in defense of Bo Bergdahl, the Army soldier that allegedly deserted his comrades. Despite being found to have deliberately abandoned his post, she insists that he served with “honor and distinction.” In an attempt to clarify what she said, she stated, “I realize there has been lots of discussion and controversy around this, but what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing.” According to her, he was honorable simply for being willing to serve in the military. Apparently, whether or not he deserted those who depended on him is irrelevant.
Further, after U.S. diplomats met with Syrian officials, Rice told the public that the Obama administration was “able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile” through peaceful talks. But given the fact that chemical weapons continued to be used in the war-torn country, it doesn’t look like she was being completely honest.
Hopefully, Rice’s meeting with Senators brings them closer to identifying everyone involved in the unmasking and leaking of U.S. government officials. Those who are found to be guilty should be punished as severely as possible. Doing so will help deter future misconduct.