If anyone expected former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the same Susan Rice who "stretched the truth" about Benghazi, to admit in her first public appearance after news that she unmasked members of the Trump team to admit she did something wrong, will be disappointed. Instead, moments ago she told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell that she categorically denied that the Obama administration inappropriately spied on members of the Trump transition team.
“The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes,” Rice told Mitchell. “That’s absolutely false.... My job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. "
“There was no such collection or surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals, it is important to understand, directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals,” Rice said.
EXCLUSIVE: Susan Rice says the claim that intelligence was used for political purposes is “absolutely false” Watch: https://t.co/JdbgCtSgEN— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017
“I don’t solicit reports,” Rice said Tuesday. “They're giving it to me, if I read it, and I think that in order for me to understand, is it significant or not so significant, I need to know who the ‘U.S. Person’ is, I can make that request.” She did concede that it is "possible" the Trump team was picked up in "incidental surveillance."
“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,” Rice said. “There is no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking.”
That said, Rice did not discuss what motive she may have had behind what Bloomberg, Fox and others have confirmed, was her unmasking of members of the Trump team.
Rice also flatly denied exposing President Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February after media reports revealed that he misled Vice President Pence about the contents of a phone call with the Russian ambassador. Asked by Mitchell if she seeked to unmask the names of people involved in the Trump campaign in order to spy on them, Rice says: "absolutely not, for any political purpose, to spy, expose, anything." And yet, that is what happened. She was then asked if she leaked if she leaked the name of Mike Flynn: “I leaked nothing to nobody."
WATCH: Susan Rice insists “I leaked nothing to nobody” https://t.co/kAsbu4VJDN— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017
In a follow up question, Rice said that when it comes to Mike Flynn with whom she had "civil and cordial relations", that she learned "in the press" that he was an unregistered agent for the Turkish government.
WATCH: Susan Rice says she learned from the press that Flynn was an unregistered agent for the Turkish government https://t.co/xD41R2fbBL— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 4, 2017
We doubt that anyone's opinion will change after hearing the above especially considering that, in addition to Benghazi, Rice is the official who praised Bowe Bergdahl for his "honorable service" and claimed he was captured "on the battlefield", and then just two weeks ago, she told PBS that she didn't know anything about the unmasking.
Unfortunately, Mitchell's list of questions did not go so far as to ask about her false claim in the PBS interview, in which she said "I know nothing about unmasking Trump officials."
It is thus hardly surprising that now that her memory has been "refreshed" about her role in the unmasking, that Rice clearly remembers doing nothing at all wrong.
On Monday night, Rand Paul and other Republicans called for Rice to testify under oath, a request she sidestepped on Tuesday. “Let's see what comes,” she told Mitchell, when asked if she would testify on the matter. “I'm not going to sit here and prejudge."