For several days now, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice has been dragged through the mud by everyone from cable news talking heads to the President of the United States.
And it’s looking like it was all much ado about nothing.
According to an exclusive CNN report, both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have finally taken a look at the mysterious documents that House Intelligence chair Devin Nunes viewed under cover of night in the White House last month.
What’s the bombshell information they revealed?
The documents reportedly show that Rice’s actions were “normal and appropriate” and that there’s “no smoking gun” backing up President Donald Trump’s claims that she broke the law.
Normal. Appropriate. No smoking gun.
Seems like someone owes somebody an apology: But this president never sincerely acknowledges fault — whether it be for a multi-year racist campaign to discredit the first black president (which turned up nothing) or for allegedly sexually harassing and assaulting over a dozen women, or … well, you get the picture.
When reports surfaced earlier this month claiming Nunes had found evidence that Rice had “unmasked” the names of Trump officials within highly classified surveillance reports (something that was totally within her power as National Security Advisor) the president’s allies lost their minds.
Republican Sen. Tom Cotton called Rice the “Typhoid Mary” of the Obama administration, resurrecting tired old claims that she was somehow at fault for the tragic 2012 U.S. embassy attack in Libya. Without evidence, GOP lawmakers and right wing pundits argued that Rice’s actions were politically motivated (one close Trump associate even went so far as to say the story was bigger than Watergate) and, with no shame, conflated unmasking with “leaking” — which of course, would be illegal.
The president was the most egregious. In an interview with the New York Times, Trump – who has no legal background whatsoever – said that he thought Rice “may” have committed a crime.
“I think it’s going to be the biggest story,” Trump said. “It’s such an important story for our country and the world.”
Oh, it’s big alright. A big fat lie.
And let’s be honest, there’s a perfectly simple reason why Susan Rice (who also served as UN Ambassador) has become a target here and had her reputation assailed. She is a black woman.
And when this administration is under fire, they have one go-to move: Blame black and brown people.
Rice has always been a particular favorite punching bag, and despite her vehement denials (“I have leaked nothing to nobody,” she told MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell), her critics have been more than comfortable putting her at the center of conspiracy theories and an alleged plot to bring down the Trump White House before it even got started.
Nice try, but they are doing a good enough job of self-destructing all on their own.
Nunes, who initially refused to reveal the source of his intel (which was later revealed to be the White House), is now under investigation for having potentially revealed classified secrets illegally. He’s had to recuse himself from the House investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Trump’s campaign’s alleged collusion in that effort.
This week, we learned that Trump’s former foreign policy advisor Carter Page has been under investigation since last summer by the FBI for potentially aiding Russian efforts to swing our election.
Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has reportedly sought immunity in order to testify about what he knows. And Trump’s attempts to get tough with Syria have been neutered by his own long history of indifference to Assad and unmitigated praise for Putin.
Rice will likely still be asked to testify before Congressional committees about what she did and why, but after a lot of innuendo and invective, it appears increasingly clear that she was only doing her job.
If Trump associates were being spied on, it’s likely because they were up to no good.
So even if Trump and his team never apologize, they could all soon be very sorry.
Adam Howard is a researcher for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which airs on TBS. Follow him on Twitter @at_howard.