Former national security adviser Susan Rice isn't taking one scintilla of blame for the furor over the "unmasking" scandal that has gripped headlines and even grabbed the attention of President Donald Trump.
Instead, she's blaming racism.
In an interview published Monday in the New York Magazine, Rice spoke to Michael Tomasky about the scandal, and asked why there wasn't such a furor against another former Obama official, Jay Carney.
When Tomasky asked her why she believes she's been a target of conservative media about the unmasking, she laughed and responded, “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. What do you think?”
Tomasky answered that he thought it might have been because she was the Obama official who went out to various Sunday talk shows to blame the Benghazi attack on a YouTube video. Rice rejected this and offered another reason.
“Does it start there?” she responded. “And why me? Why not Jay Carney, for example, who was then our press secretary, who stood up more?”
Rice then cites the example of another African-American woman in politics, Condoleezza Rice, who was excoriated.
Carney isn’t an African-American woman, of course. Does Rice credit that for the disproportionate amount of scrutiny she’s gotten? “I don’t know,” she replies. “I’m not being a smartass when I say I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’m trying to understand it better. All that stuff happened while I was a sitting public servant. I perhaps mistakenly assumed that once I was no longer a sitting public servant, and a private citizen minding my own business and trying to go to my daughter’s soccer games with more regularity, that I would not be of interest to these folks. Um … Silly me. So this has prompted me to really try to get underneath that question.”
She mentions that other women in public life of all races have come in for some pretty rough treatment. Hillary Clinton. Condoleezza Rice. The other Rice, says this Rice, “took a lot of stuff. Not, frankly, I don’t think, to the same extent I have, but that was ad hominem.” I point out that she has a reputation for being tough, and a strong-willed woman who seems sure of herself makes a certain kind of man nervous.
She makes it clear that she hasn't concluded completely that racism is to blame.
“Let me just put it this way,” she said. “I do not leap to the simple explanation that it’s only about race and gender. I’m trying to keep my theories to myself until I’m ready to come out with them. It’s not because I don’t have any.”
The "unmasking" scandal began when Trump tweeted an accusation that the Obama administration has "wire tapped" him at Trump Towers before the election.
It was then revealed that Susan Rice had "unmasked" Trump associates that were incidentally recorded by U.S. intelligence agencies. Her critics have said this was an unusual and illegal act that she should face criminal charges over, while her defenders say it was in the regular course of her office that such "unmasking" operations were conducted.
In May, Rice refused a request from the judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism to testify on the matter, saying that it was not a bipartisan request, but only from Sen. Lindsey Graham (D-S.C.). This elicited another response from the president's Twitter account.