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Thursday, 06 April 2017 10:33
Trump deflects on Russia probe, fries Susan Rice with allegations of crime
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rice obamaBloomberg revealed that President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice sought to unmask the identities of President Donald Trump’s people incidentally surveilled by intelligence agencies during the campaign. The White House claims she acted improperly, allegedly, for the purpose of spilling information about the classified surveillance to the press. That story could be a Pulitzer Prize winner. 

Implicit in the latest White House attempt to distract from the deep-throated Russia question is an assumption that Rice’s knowledge is more damning that anything already disclosed, to wit, secret meetings with Russian actors, compensation for foreign agency, and the possibility of financial connections, the extent of which will be revealed by the FBI or Congress, particularly, if any wrongdoing is found. 

The Administration’s spin on Rice, whom Trump claims committed a criminal act, rests on two assumptions. The first of these is that Rice was acting inappropriately when she asked to "un-redact" information to know whom it concerned, even though it was her job to protect national security which is harmed every time U.S. citizens have inappropriate contacts with foreign targets of espionage. 

The second assumption is that Rice wanted the information to be leaked, or caused it to be leaked to the press, by “just leaving it lying around,” according to Sean Spicer who wasn’t there at the time. It must have taken a committee to come up with that purported actus reus. In the game of Clue it’d be a sure sign that the butler did it. 

Both of the acts imputed to Rice, who has denied all wrongdoing, will be difficult of proof, especially, if cast as quasi-criminal or criminal in nature. Compare Trump’s exhortation to Russia to “find” Secretary Clinton’s missing emails with anything Rice may have done. His invitation to Russia to hack us, again, might be construed to be a real violation of national security laws and reveals a familiarity with what the Russians do, and have done. 

The White House may not like what Rice has to say, especially, if revealed behind closed doors under subpoena. Susan Rice can’t volunteer to give up secrets but when ordered to do has no choice. She has intergovernmental immunity, already, for any mistakes she may have committed in the performance of the regular and customary duties of her job as National Security Advisor. General Flynn, in contrast, acted outside of the scope of his job and needs immunity, though he may have asked for it too late.   

The Administration, desperate for a real or imagined villain has turned to the Rice this week. The turn, however, could lead, eventually, where else, to Russia. House Intel Chairman Nunes, whose own credibility has been challenged, claims that the security documents he saw at the White House, and then disclosed back to the White House, didn’t refer to Russia. You can bet, however, that Rice saw things pertaining to well-connected people and Russia. So did the fired- Acting General Sally Yates who will be testifying, soon, before Congress and has said, already, that her account of the facts is different from the President’s. 

The Administration keeps telling the press to “shut up” and stop talking about Russia. Meanwhile, Trump has never acknowledged that Russia is the world’s largest factory of false reports, half-truths, and political chicanery. Don’t expect the President to acknowledge this fact, however, because such an admission could prove scienter of Moscow’s efforts on his behalf. It’s yet another dilemma for a White House limping to urgent care while the hospital burns. 

Until the full truth about Russia is revealed, including all relevant financial dealings, there will be a brooding omnipresence hovering over Trump’s Presidency.. Who does the White House’s dissimulation benefit? It’s not the Republican Party; not the people who elected Trump; and, not anyone except, momentarily, Trump himself. He might wish to consider, in the process, that every lie told today must be defended tomorrow. ISIS broke its long silence to say Trump was a know nothing idiot. More important is what the rest of the world thinks about him. Peace may depend on that opinion.

 

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