Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice is declining the Senate’s request to testify at a hearing on the alleged Russian hacking of the 2016 elections.
The request for Rice’s testimony was made by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) during a CNN interview Tuesday.
Graham said, via The Hill:
“I’d like to ask questions of her,” Graham told CNN Tuesday. “I have seen press reports — I don’t know how accurate they are — that she was involved in the unmasking of an American citizen who was incidentally surveilled.”
“I believe Russia tried to interfere in our election,” he added. “Did the Obama administration try to politicize intel? I don’t know. I’d like to get the answer to both.”
But Susan Rice isn’t interested in testifying unless her testimony comes with certain guidelines. In a letter given to CNN, Kathryn Ruemmler, Rice’s lawyer, explains the reason behind Rice’s planned absence.
The letter, reads, in part:
While Ambassador Rice commends the Subcommittee’s efforts to examine this matter of extraordinary national significance, it is extremely rare for the Congress to request the testimony of a former senior advisor to the President given the longstanding and well-recognized separation of powers concerns at issue.
Moreover, Chairman Graham’s invitation was extended only after the hearing was noticed, less than two weeks before the hearing was scheduled to occur, and without consultation with Ambassador Rice, a professional courtesy that would customarily be extended to any witness. Notwithstanding the significance of these concerns, Ambassador Rice is prepared to assist Congressional inquiries into Russian election interference because of the important national interests at stake, provided they are conducted in a bipartisan manner, and as appropriate, in classified session.
In this case, however, 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. Under these circumstances, Ambassador Rice respectfully declines Senator Graham’s invitation to testify.
Again, and as Ambassador Rice has stated publicly, she supports and is committed to assisting the bipartisan Congressional inquiries into Russian interference in the 2016 election, given the utmost importance of this matter to our national security.
At the time of publication, Graham has yet to comment on Rice’s decision.