So it looks like the Susan Rice smoke screen had a half-life of about 48 hours.
On Tuesday I’ve chuckled as the narrative behind the “pay no attention to those Russians behind the curtain and look at Susan Rice instead” diversion has shifted from “this is a bombshell!,” to “well, maybe not bombshell, but at least bombshell-ish,” to “well, if it wasn’t illegal then maybe Trump should rewrite the laws to make it illegal so we can retroactively prosecute Rice for doing her job.”
But as maddening as it might be for the administration, this isn’t going away – no matter how many “look! over there!” distractions the White House throws in front of the electorate.
See the thing is, some folks may be guilty of treason. Let me rephrase that: some folks probably are guilty of treason. And Susan Rice is probably not guilty of anything other than being a National Security Advisor who wanted to advise on national security.
I mean you can’t really “take her word for it” because you know, it’s her talking about herself so she’s only going to have good things to say, but it is worth noting that in her first public response to Republicans who have argued that “the real story” is not the F.B.I. investigation into contacts between Trump’s associates and Russia but the conduct of the Obama administration, Rice was pretty amusing. Here’s one soundbite that makes intuitive sense in terms of explaining the “purpose” behind unmasking US citizens caught up in surveillance:
The purpose was to do our jobs.
Oh. Well, when you put it that way…
She continued as follows:
It was a grave concern to all of us in the national security team of the president and to the president himself. We took this issue very seriously. We thought it was crucial to defend the integrity of our election process. For us not to try to understand it would be a dereliction of duty.
Former CIA chief Michael Hayden offered a similarly succinct assessment when speaking to reporters in Washington today:
The process as described is perfectly normal.
Hmmm. Doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.
Of course according to the administration and its apologizers, these people can’t be trusted. “Of course they would say that!” Etc. etc. You know the routine.
At the end of the day, I’d be willing to bet that Susan Rice won’t end up behind bars for trying to do her job.
By contrast, Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro told CNN the following today when asked if he’d “seen any hard evidence of collusion yet”:
I would say this. My impression is that I wouldn’t be surprised after all of this is said and done that some people end up in jail.
If I was betting, I’d say yes.
And see here’s the thing. By the time “this is said and done” (to quote Castro), lawmakers are going to search far and wide for any and all persons that had a role in facilitating and defending this charade.
To anyone who thinks they might be “guilty as charged” (so to speak), I’d say two things: 1) don’t say I didn’t try to warn you, and 2) I hate it had to be you.