Susan Rice Declines Request to Testify on Russian Hacking

Susan Rice / Getty Images
May 3, 2017

Susan Rice, former President Obama's national security adviser, declined an invitation to testify before a Senate subcommittee on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

A letter sent from Rice's lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, said the former Obama official declined to appear because she felt the invitation was inadequately bipartisan, CNN reported Wednesday. Rice was invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), the panel's chairman. However, the committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I), did not approve the invitation.

"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," the letter said. "Under these circumstances, Ambassador Rice respectfully declines Senator Graham's invitation to testify."

"With the exception of that invitation, Senator Graham and I have agreed on all witnesses that have been invited to this hearing," Whitehouse told CNN. "I don't believe that Dr. Rice's participation is germane to the topic of this hearing, and I believe her presence would be a distraction from the critical issues at hand. I fully support her decision not to testify."

According to a source who spoke to CNN, Rice considers the invitation a "diversionary play," meant to distract from the investigation.

The letter insisted that despite her non-appearance, Rice was "prepared to assist congressional inquiries into Russian election interference because of the important national interests at stake, provided they are conducted in a bipartisan manner, and, as appropriate, in classified session."

On Thursday morning, President Donald Trump weighed in on Rice declining the request to testify.

UPDATE Thursday, May 4, 9:30 A.M.: This post was updated to include new comments from President Donald Trump.