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Grassley: Rice’s Refusal To Testify Hurts Russia Investigation

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley looks ons during FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON — Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley said in a statement Wednesday night he was “disappointed” former National Security Advisor Susan Rice declined an invitation to testify at next week’s subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election, adding that the investigation would remain incomplete “until her role is understood.”

“I am deeply disappointed that Ambassador Rice has declined to participate in this hearing. She is uniquely positioned to help us better understand the issues that will be discussed Monday. Her choice stands in stark contrast to other former high-ranking national security officials like former Director Clapper and former Deputy Attorney General Yates. Senator Graham and Senator Whitehouse have taken great care to conduct a meaningful and productive hearing,” Grassley said in a statement.

Grassley added, “Declining to attend because you didn’t get an invite from a member of your party is a poor excuse and makes it appear as though she’s hiding something. No investigation will be complete until her role is understood. I agree with Ranking Member Feinstein that Rice should reconsider.”

In a letter addressed to subcommittee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham and ranking member Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rice’s attorney Kathryn Ruemmler said her client decided not to attend the hearing because Whitehouse said he did not agree with Graham that Rice should testify.

Rice likely would be asked about her role in unmasking of American citizens, particularly Michael Flynn — President Trump’s former national security advisor — netted among foreign targets by the U.S. intelligence community.

Whitehouse, however, claimed that Rice’s presence at the hearing next week would just be a “distraction.”

“I think we’ve got great witnesses and I don’t want it to distract at the hearing,” Whitehouse told reporters Wednesday night. “I think she would have been a distraction. We’ve got a specific focus for this hearing that both the former deputy Attorney General and the former Director of National Intelligence can speak to.”

When asked by The Daily Caller why he thought Rice could not provide pertinent information considering her first admitted hand knowledge of the issue, he replied, “I have no idea but it doesn’t seem that way and she wasn’t one of the witnesses we noticed at the hearing for.”

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch told TheDC that he thinks Rice should testify. “She served in the prior administration and she ought to be open to coming and testifying.”

Hatch noted that he would support Grassley if the chairman ultimately subpoenaed Rice to testify.