Susan Rice said on Sunday that she didn’t do anything “untoward” with the intelligence she received about Russian interference in the 2016 election during her tenure as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser.
In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Rice reiterated a point she has made previously: that she did nothing improper or illegal in her handling of intelligence intercepts about American citizens’ contacts with Russia.
The dispute stems from the lead-up to last year’s presidential election, when Rice asked the NSA to “unmask” ― or reveal ― the names of the Americans involved in those contacts.
There’s nothing illegal or inherently improper about her unmasking request. And it stands to reason that the national security adviser would want to know the names of Americans who were in contact with Russian intelligence officials during an extremely tense moment in U.S.-Russian relations.
Nevertheless, President Donald Trump, in response to a leading question from a New York Times reporter, suggested earlier this month that Rice may have broken the law. There is no evidence that Rice did and few, if any, others have echoed Trump’s assertion.
Here’s the relevant section of Rice’s CNN interview:
ZAKARIA: One of the elements of fallout from Russia’s attempt to influence the American election was that there was a certain amount of intelligence work being done on Russia. Our intelligence agencies were listening to what Russian government officials or Russian intelligence officials were saying. Donald Trump has accused you of trying to unmask the Americans on the other end of those conversations in an attempt to implicate the Trump campaign or people associated with Trump in some kind of collusion with Russia. What is your reaction to that? It’s an extraordinary charge by the President of the United States.
RICE: Well Fareed, it’s absolutely false. I’ve addressed this previously. I think now we’ve had subsequently members of Congress on the intelligence committees on both sides of the aisle take a look at the information that apparently was the basis for Chairman [Devin] Nunes’ concern and say publicly that they didn’t see anything that was unusual or untoward. I did my job, which was to protect the American people, and I did it faithfully and with― to the best of my ability, and never did I do anything that was untoward with respect to the intelligence I received.