As a part of his ongoing quest to distract from the actual problems of his presidency, Donald Trump accused Susan Rice, the national security adviser during the Obama administration, of potentially committing a crime. He claims she requested the identities of Trump administration officials who were in surveillance reports on foreign officials, and that she used that information for political gain. But Trump did not provide any evidence to support these claims, according to The New York Times.
According to an official who spoke to The Associated Press, Rice requested the names of Trump associates who routinely surfaced in intelligence reports she was given, a process known as “unmasking.” Given Rice’s role in the administration, she would have been well within her rights to ask for and obtain that information. Politico reported that there were further accusations that Rice had been behind the leaking of information regarding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and his conversations with Russian officials, as reports suggest that he may have been among the names she requested. Leaking that information would indeed constitute a crime but, in an interview with MSNBC, Rice categorically denied doing so, saying, “I leaked nothing to nobody and never have and never would.”
Rice has been a prime target for political opponents since she incorrectly insisted that the Benghazi attacks in 2012 were unrelated to terrorism. Now, given her prominent role in handling intelligence during the Obama administration, Trump has turned his attention on her, insisting that “I think it’s going to be the biggest story. It’s such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer concurred, saying “The more we find out about this, the more we learn there was something there.” However, like the president, he declined to share any more specific information about what that “something” might be.
Trump has made something of a habit of pulling out big, unsubstantiated accusations as a way to divert attention from actual stories. In this case, the president’s claim comes as his administration is under federal investigation over ties to Russia during the 2016 election. But Rice refused to mince words about the allegations: “The allegation is that somehow the Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes. That’s absolutely false.” Too bad Trump doesn’t have any proof to back up his words.