- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice has reportedly declined an invitation to testify before a Senate panel investigating Russian attempts to influence the U.S. election, walking back her earlier acceptance.

According to CNN, Ms. Rice’s initial acceptance of the invitation from Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, was based on the presupposition that it was a bipartisan request.

However, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, reportedly told Ms. Rice that he did not approve of Mr. Graham’s invitation. According to a letter from Ms. Rice’s lawyer obtained by CNN, that scuppered her willingness to testify.

“Senator Whitehouse has informed us by letter that he did not agree to Chairman Graham’s invitation to Ambassador Rice, a significant departure from the bipartisan invitations extended to other witnesses,” attorney Kathryn Ruemmler wrote. “Under these circumstances, Ambassador Rice respectfully declines Senator Graham’s invitation to testify.”

Citing “a source familiar with Rice’s discussions,” CNN reported that Mr. Whitehouse didn’t think Ms. Rice’s presence was relevant.

According to that source, Ms. Rice sees Mr. Graham’s request a “diversionary play.”

Ms. Rice’s most famous moment in the public eye came in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi terrorist attack when she went on several Sunday talk shows to repeat the Obama administration’s false story that the assault on the U.S. consulate there, which killed four Americans, grew out of an anti-Islam video.

Mr. Graham had wanted her to testify on whether the Obama administration had politicized U.S. intelligence gathering by, in the specific context of the 2016 election, using legal intercepts of foreign officials to compile information on Trump campaign officials, which would be illegal if leaked.

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