Susan Rice, former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, is no longer expected to testify Tuesday in a closed-door hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on allegations that she requested the identities of “masked” U.S. persons in intelligence reports linked to President Donald Trump’s transition and campaign.
Rice was planning to appear before the committee on Tuesday to discuss her role in asking intelligence officials to unmask Trump associates, but the hearing has apparently been postponed, Fox News reported Monday.
The House Intelligence Committee is leading one of several investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The investigations aim to produce clarity on what precisely Russia did to interfere in the election and whether any Trump associates colluded with the Kremlin to defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Rice was expected to be asked tough questions on whether she requested the unmasking of Trump associates whose identities were anonymous in intelligence documents. The documents were based on electronic eavesdropping of foreigners, and the conversations of the individuals in the U.S. were collected incidentally.
According to press reports from earlier this year, Rice requested the masked identities on several occasions. Critics have said that the Obama administration sought to use intelligence to hurt Trump, a charge that Rice ardently denied.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (R.) told Fox News last week that he wants Rice to answer one basic question: “Did you unmask the names, and if so why?”
On March 22, Rice told PBS she “knew nothing” about the unmasking of Trump associates.
After reports came out about the unmasking, she denied any wrongdoing in April.
“The allegation is that somehow the Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes. That’s absolutely false,” Rice told MSNBC.
Among the names reportedly unmasked was Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who resigned in February after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
In May, Rice declined an invitation to testify from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism. At that time, Rice refused to testify because the senior Democrat on the subcommittee was not involved in the invitation, according to her lawyer.
The next month, Rice suggested to New York Magazine that the way she has been “targeted” might have something to do with the fact that she is African American and female.
“Let me just put it this way,” Rice said. “I do not leap to the simple explanation that it’s only about race and gender. I’m trying to keep my theories to myself until I’m ready to come out with them. It’s not because I don’t have any.”
In addition to pursuing Rice’s testimony, congressional investigators have issued subpoenas to the NSA, CIA and FBI seeking “unmasking” information related to three Obama administration officials: Rice, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.