Part 2 transcribed:
Mitchell: Particular focus on Russia uh because of the conversations with the Russian Ambassador because of the expulsion, around the time of the expulsion, December 26th, of the decision to sanction Russia and expel a large number of uh alleged spies or diplomats.
Rice: Well Andrea, from basically August through te end of the administration we were hearing more and more getting more and more information about Russian interference in our electoral process. It was of grave concern to all of us in the National Security team and the President himself. So we took this issue very seriously. We thought it was crucial to defend the integrity of our election process and to respond appropriately to what the Russians did to understand the full extent of their involvement. So yes, there was a pace of reporting that accelerated as the intelligence community got more and more information on that and shared it with US officials. I don’t recall with any precision the volume as it may have peaked or spiked at different stages but I can say that when this first came to light in intelligence channels to when the administration ended we got more and more information.
Mitchell: Was there suspision of Michael Flynn?
Rice: Andrea, I don’t want to talk about any individuals. I spent hours with Michael Flynn, during the transition, as was my responsibility to try to provide him and other members with the best possible uh briefings I could as to what they needed to do to hit the ground running. We had very civil and cordial interactions and he conducted himself professionally and I did the same so I don’t want to get into concern any particular individuals again I think that would be crossing a line.
Mitchell: Did you know at the time that he was an unregistered agent for the Turkish Government?
Mitchell: When did you learn that?
Rice: In the press as everybody else did.
Mitchell: You didn’t know that when you were National Security Advisor?
Rice: I did not.
Mitchell: Is there any truth to President Trump’s claim on twitter exactly a month ago, early one Saturday morning on March 4th that the Obama, that President Obama was eavesdropping on him at Trump Tower?
Rice: Absolutely false. And the intelligence community, the Director of the FBI has made that very clear. There was no such collection surveillance on Trump Tower or Trump individuals and it’s very important, by that I mean directed by the White House or targeted at Trump individuals. And it’s important for everybody to understand the President of the United States and people in the White House do not have the ability to order such collection. That can only come from the Justice Department through an established process. It never originates in the White House. So not only did it not occur, it didn’t occur and it couldn’t have occurred um..directed by the WHite House.
Mitchell: At the same time, the President, his associates, their names could have been bandied about by foreign officials they could have been picked up in incidental collection. Is that not correct?
Rice: Yes, that is possible.
Mitchell: And you could have asked for those names of American #1, American #2, however it’s identified to be unmasked so that you would know how significant it was.
Rice: That’s exactly right Andrea. The fact is if whether we’re talking about Russia or any other topic. If I saw an intelligence report that looked potentially significant, and by understand by definition if it’s being provided to me it is significant. I don’t solicit reports, I only receive what the intelligence community thinks what I or any other Senior Official needs to see. So they’re giving it to me. If I read it and I think, you know, in order to really understand is this significant or not so significant, I need to understand who the US person is, I can make that request. The intelligence community then process that request through their normal procedures and if they feel they can give the answer they give the answer. That just comes back to me, not to anybody broadly in the National Security world. And that’s necessary for me to do my job. It’s necessary for the Secretary of State of the Secretary of Defense or the CIA Director to do their jobs. We can’t be passive consumers of this information and not and do our jobs effectively to protect the American people. Imagine if we saw something of grave significance that involved Russia or China or anybody else interfering in our political process and we need to understand the significance of that for us to not to try to understand it would be dereliction of duty.
Mitchell: What did you first think when the President tweeted that President Obama had eavesdropped on him.
Rice: I was surprised. I was shocked. I think many people were. That’s a very serious allegation. It had no basis in fact and it wasn’t typical of the way uh… President’s treat their predecessors uh… and it’s not uh indicative of the tone and the collaboration sought to achieve during the transition.
Mitchell: There have been uh.. Republican responses today, Senator Tom Cotton on the Hugh Hewitt show called you the Typhoid Mary of the Obama White House. Your response to that?
Rice: You know, I’ve been called a lot of things from folks on the right that are unfair and disingenuous. This is not the first. So I’m not going to get into each individual allegation or uh… moniker that some might apply to me.
Mitchell: Rand Paul is suggesting that you be subpoenaed to testify.
Mitchell: Would you be willing to go to Capitol Hill?
Rice: You know, Andrea, let’s let’s see what comes. I’m not going to you, uh you know, sit here and prejudge, but what I will say is that the investigations that are underway as to the Russian involvement in our electoral process are very important. They’re very serious. And every American ought to have an interest in those investigations going wherever the evidence indicates they should. And I have an interest in that as an American citizen, as a former US Official, I would want to be helpful in that process if I could.
Mitchell: Do you regret that the Obama White House did not decide earlier to blow the whistle on Russians before the election?
Rice: We did blow the whistle on the Russians on October 7th and that came as soon as the intelligence community and all of its component parts, 17 agencies, came to a consensus conclusion, that we took the extraordinary step of making public, that the Russian government at the highest levels was involved in an effort to uh play in our electoral process. That information was put out to the American people in a statement from the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Homeland Security. Very unusual act to put on notice the American people, the uh Secretaries of our 50 States, whose responsibilities it is to protect the integrity of our electoral infrastructure. And to members of Congress who had been previously briefed on the import of this. So we did in fact put that information out as early as we had that consensus view with confidence, high confidence and that was necessary and the right thing to do.
Mitchell: Do you know how President Obama feels about the accusation that he eavesdropped?
Rice: I haven’t had that conversation with him.
Mitchell: And finally, do you think we’ll ever get to the bottom of the Russian hacking?
Rice: I think we have to Andrea. This is something very very serious. A hostile government inserted itself into our electoral process in a significant way in doing so with biased intent and that’s the conclusion of our intelligence agencies. We also know their meddling in elections in Europe among our close allies. It’s important the American people understand this and it’s important that we improve our defenses against this kind of effort in the future because if we don’t we should well assume that they will continue.
Watch via Eric Dolan: