Buried deep in this Eli Lake column is a nugget that should be front-page news:
National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has concluded that Rice did nothing wrong, according to two U.S. intelligence officials who spoke to me on condition of anonymity.
Rice is Susan Rice, former national security advisor in the Obama administration. McMaster has cleared her of the charges leveled against her this spring by members of the Trump administration, along with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), in what was a transparent effort to confuse the public about the nature of the probe into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia during last year's election.
Additionally, McMaster sent Rice a letter confirming that she could keep her top secret security clearance, which is standard for former national security advisors. (Though whether it is allowed for those under possible criminal investigation such as Michael Flynn is another story.)
Interestingly, McMaster sent this letter at the end of April, which means Rice was cleared more than three months ago. At the time, the screaming from the right wing about her possibly illegal unmasking of American identities in intelligence reports was at a fever pitch, fed in no small part by President Donald Trump himself, who was still pushing the story more than a month after McMaster cleared Rice:
It is easy to forget now just how big this story blew up four months ago, mostly because with the near-daily chaos from this administration, four months feels like 40 years. But for weeks, there was a daily drum beat smearing Rice in the right-wing media, even though we are finding out now that she was quickly cleared of wrongdoing by the current president's own national security advisor.
Why are we learning about this all now? Well, Nunes was recently rebuked by the Senate Intelligence Committee for making this up, and McMaster just this week fired one of the National Security Council employees who was reportedly the source of the leaks to Nunes that so drove the president's ire.
We're taking bets on the number of apologies Susan Rice will receive from the president and anyone else who spent weeks dragging her name through the mud in a futile effort to make the Trump administration look like the victims of a conspiracy by a deep-state cabal of former Obama administration officials, or whatever. We'll set the over/under at zero.
The bottom line is that it seems as if, after six months of being back on their heels, a few adults in Washington are reasserting control over an administration full of nationalist ideologues, at least where intelligence and national security are concerned. (Immigration policy, for one, is a whole other monster.)
It's a small thing, but we'll take it.