Susan Rice was interviewed this morning in an exclusive interview with Andrea Mitch of MSNBC. Mitchell asked her about the allegations of spying on the Trump administration and ordering the unmasking and leaking of Trump officials. Here’s the transcript for part 1.
Rice: Well Andrea, this is not anything political has been alleged. The allegation is that somehow uh, Obama Administraiton Officials uh, utilized intelligence for political purposes. That is absolutely false. Let me explain how this works. I was the National Security Advisor. My job is to protect the American people and the security of our country. THat’s the same as the Sec of State, the Sec of Defense, the CIA Director and every morning to enable us to do that, we receive from the intelligence community, a compilation of intelligence reports that the IC, the intelligence community has selected for us on a daily basis to give us the best information as to uh, what’s going on around the world. I received those reports as did each of those other officials and there were occasions when I would receive a report in which uh… a US person was referred to, name not provided, just US person. And sometimes in that context to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out or request as to who that US official was. Let me just give you a hypothetical example. This is completely made up but let’s say there was a conversation between two foreigner about a conversation they were having with an American who was proposing to sell to them high tech bomb making equipment. Now if that came to me as National Security Adviser it would matter enormously is this some kook sitting in his living room communicating via the internet offering to sell something he doesn’t have or is this a serious person or company or entity with the ability to provide that technology perhaps to an adversary. That would be an example of a case where knowing who the US person was was necessary to assess the information. So when that occurred, what I would do or what any official would do is to ask the briefer whether the intelligence community would go through its process and there is a long standing established process to decide whether that information as to who the identity of the US person was could be provided to me. So they take that question back, they put it through a process and the intelligence community made that determination as to whether or not the identity of that American individual could be provided to me. That is what I and secretary of state, sec or defense, cia director, DNI would do when we receive that information. We only do it to protect the American people to do our jobs in the National Security room. That’s the only reason.
Mitchell: In that process and within the context of the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, did you seek the names of people involved in to unmask the names of the people involved in the Trump transition the Trump campaign, people surrounding the PResident elect? In order to spy on them in order to expose them.
Rice: Absolutely not for any political purposes to spy, expose anything.
Mitchell: Did you leak the name of Mike Flynn?
Rice: I leaked nothing to nobody and never have and never would. But let me explain this. First of all, Andrea, to talk about the content of a classified report, to talk about the individuals on the foreign side who were the targets of the report itself or any Americans who may have been collected upon incidentally is to disclose classified information. I’m not going to do that. And those people that aer putting these stories out are doing just that. I can’t describe any particular report I saw and by the way I had no idea what report are allegedly being described by those that are putting out this story. I don’t know what timeframe they were from, I don’t know the subject matter and I don’t know who uh they think was collected upon.
Mitchell: The allegation is that in one case, they are alleging in the Daily Caller that there is a spread sheet that you put out of all of these names and circulated.
Rice: Absolutely false. No spreadsheet, nothing of the sort. And let me also elaborate and say t hat when the intelligence community would respond to a request from the Senior National Security official of an American. That would come back only to the person who requested it. And it would be brought back to them directly.
Mitchell: To you directly.
Rice: To me or to whoever might have requested it on occasion and this is uh, important. It was not then typically broadly disseminate throughout the National Security community or the government so the notion that, which some people are trying to suggest that by asking for the identity of an AMerican person that is the same as leaking it is completely false. There’s no equivalence so called unmasking and leaking. The effort to ask for the identity is necessary to understand the importance of an intelligence report in some instances.
Mitchell: Now the House Chairman, Devin Nunes said that the incidental collection of these names that he was briefed when he came to the White House in the [sic] of offices that you used to lead at the NSC, he said that it had nothing to do with the Russia investigation. Yet now the allegation is that you were responsible for leaking the fact that Mike Flynn had talked to Ambassador Kysliak and perhaps others. Is there any truth to that?
Rice: I can’t get into any specific reports. I don’t know what uh uh, Devin Nunes reviewed at the White House. What I can say is that there is an established process for Senior National Security Officials to ask for the identities of US persons in these reports. To go beyond that is to disclose classified information and those people that are doing that are doing something very wrong.
Mitchell: Did the pace accelerate during the transition, perhaps during early December, when the President ordered an investigation into the hacking, the Russian hacking, did the pace of the unmasking requests, of your unmasking requests accellerate toward the end of the White House tenure.
Rice: I can’t say the pace of unmasking request would accelerate but if you’re asking were more reports provided to US Senior officials after the President requested the compilation of the intelligence which uh was ultimately provided in January, yes. What happened as the IC went about the business…
Mitchell: Intelligence Community, the business of following up on the President’s order.
Rice: Fulfilling the President’s request for such a report they went back and scrubbed more reports. they began to provide more reports to American officials including myself.
Mitchell: And did you make more requests to find the identity of Americans who had been picked up in incidental collections. I’m not asking you for the substance which i know is classified, but were there more instances at the tail end of the administration that you had to make, that you felt you had to make those requests to follow up on the raw data you were looking at.
Rice: Andrea, I can’t really be particular about the pace because understand over 8 years, for me and others who served, it was not uncommon, in fact it was necessary at times to make those requests to find out the identity of those US officials of every topic under the sun when it seemed relevant. I don’t have a particular recollection of doing that more frequently after the election.
Watch via Eric Dolan: