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Susan Rice's Testimony on Being Out of Russiagate Loop Doesn't Add Up


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By Eric Felten
July 30, 2020

Susan Rice, the vice presidential contender with a high-profile history of questionable public statements, has another dubious claim in her past that until now has escaped scrutiny. Rice swore under oath that as President Obama’s national security adviser she was never told about the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation. But former FBI Director James Comey testified that Rice was present when he informed Obama all about Crossfire Hurricane just weeks after the investigation was launched.

The contradiction could lead to charges that Rice lied to Congress about a topic still of intense interest to investigators: How actively involved in the effort to spy on the Trump campaign was the inner circle of the Obama White House, including the president himself? More immediately, the question of whether Rice told the truth on Capitol Hill might damage her bid to join Joe Biden on the Democratic presidential ticket.

Rice earned a reputation for shading the truth after the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. She was famously dispatched to five different Sunday morning news shows to repeat false talking points: that the mob that killed four Americans – including Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens – was merely reacting to an obscure YouTube video mocking Islam.

Questions about her forthrightness were redoubled when Senate investigators found that, in the waning minutes of the Obama administration, Rice wrote a curious “memo to the file.” She sent an email to herself on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, and in it claimed that Obama had insisted that everything to do with Russia, whether law enforcement or counterintelligence, be done “by the book.”


Reached by RealClearInvestigations, Rice spokesperson Erin Pelton said that Rice’s testimony was true: “As Ambassador Rice wrote in her book and stated to Congress, she was not briefed by the FBI or the Department of Justice on the existence of an FBI investigation into allegations of collusion between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia, nor was she informed of any FISA applications sought by the FBI in its investigation.” Pelton said Rice “only learned of the fact of this investigation after leaving office, when FBI Director Comey testified before Congress to that effect.”

The spokesperson offered no comment, however, about Comey’s assertion to the inspector general that he had told Obama, Rice, and the others about Crossfire Hurricane shortly after the investigation’s launch in the summer of 2016.

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