On Fox News, host Brian Kilmeade asked Tom Fitton of watchdog group Judicial Watch to “unwind” the possibility that Barack Obama and Susan Rice may have violated the law as part of the intelligence intercepts of members of President Trump’s transition team. Fitton said that Rice is no more likely to admit to criminal activity on the stand at potential Congressional hearings than she was in statements to the media.
However, Fitton pointed out several statutes that Rice may have violated. “If she was accessing this material and using it for improper purposes, there are all sorts of criminal laws that would have been violated. The Privacy Act protects the private information of individuals from prying for improper purposes, and you can go to jail for that.”
Fitton went on to say, “If she is going to be called as a witness, I would suggest that the focus be on getting a grand jury going and have her testify before a grand jury. That would show that we’re serious about investigating this unprecedented violation and abuse of power by a president and an appointee.”
Harking back to the 1970s, Fitton recalled “If G. Gordon Liddy [a senior advisor to Richard Nixon] were in the White House during the Nixon administration doing this sort of thing, this is the equivalent. You’ve got G. Gordon Liddy under Obama, which Susan Rice at this point is by all accounts.”
Liddy spent four and a half years in prison for his role in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington DC.
As to Obama’s culpability, Fitton said, “I don’t know what Obama knew or when he knew it. You know I’ve highlighted the fact that he could still be impeached, as a way to highlight the fact that there’s got to be accountability for President Obama as well. And it’s been remarkable that we haven’t heard much from President Obama in recent days despite him screaming seemingly for weeks about Trump and Russia as he was leaving office.”
In opinion article at Fox News, former CIA analyst Fred Fleitz said that Rice’s various accounts about the interception of communications on the part of Trump’s transition team are contradictory. “Rice’s denials don’t add up,” Fleitz wrote. “It is hard to fathom how the demasking of multiple Trump campaign and transition officials was not politically motivated.”
Retired Army Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer told Fox News, “From my direct experience dealing at this level, that is never done.” Typically, said Shaffer, American citizens’ interactions with foreigners is not typically reason enough to unmask their identity for the national security advisor. “These techniques, technology and procedures are reserved for potential violations of U.S. laws,” he said with regard to Rice’s alleged actions: “It’s not only legally insufficient, it’s politically insane.”
Commenting about the controversy over Rice, President Trump told the New York Times that he thinks that she may have committed a crime when she requested the identities of Trump’s associates mentioned in U.S. surveillance. When asked, Trump said, Trump said, “Do I think? Yes, I think.” While he did not immediately offer any evidence, Trump said, “I think it’s going to be the biggest story.” He added, “It’s such an important story for our country and the world. It is one of the big stories of our time.”