President Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, Susan Rice, declined a request to testify at a judiciary subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the November election.
…a move that leading Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein acknowledge looks bad.
More from CNN on Rice’s refusal:
A letter obtained exclusively by CNN 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.
“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.”
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press Daily,” Feinstein pointed to Rice commenting that she “never did anything untoward” with intel received on election interference — which was in response to concerns of whether the Obama administration “tried to politicize intelligence” by unmasking Trump officials.
“Well, I think she ought to consider it,” Feinstein said of the invitation to appear. “She has gone public.”
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) May 3, 2017
The California lawmaker also squashed a claim made by Rice’s attorney that the request was not “bipartisan.”
“This is a new criteria,” Feinstein said. “She is certainly within her rights of saying, ‘I’m now retired. I’m not going to do it.’ But because she went forward and did press, I would hope she would consider doing it.”
President Donald Trump took to Twitter Thursday morning to comment on the news that Rice will not testify, saying: “Not good!”
Either way, a “disappointed” Graham said that while he doesn’t know why Rice won’t come before the committee, “we’ll deal with her later,” CNN reported.
He’s not ready to say he will subpoena her, but Graham wants to learn more about the unmasking of American citizens caught up in surveillance.
“I want to know about unmasking,” he told CNN. “Apparently the number of unmasking requests tripled last year, versus 2015 … I want to know who can unmask an American citizen’s name whose caught up in surveillance, and what they can do with that information.”
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