CNN's Lemon calls Susan Rice story a 'diversion'

CNN’s Don Lemon described reports that former President Obama national security adviser Susan Rice unmasked members of President Trump's transition team a “diversion” during a report on Monday night.

Lemon then told his audience that his show “will not insult your intelligence” by focusing too much on the story.

“Let’s be very clear about this: There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump team … was spied on illegally. There is no evidence that backs up the president’s original claim,” Lemon said.

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“We will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise, nor will we aid and abet the people who are trying to misinform you, the American people, by creating a diversion.”

Lemon's comments echo that of CNN national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, who earlier used similar language around the Rice story being “a distraction.”

“The idea that Ambassador Rice improperly sought the identities of Americans is false. There is nothing unusual about making these requests when serving as a senior national security official, whether Democrat or Republican,” said Sciutto, a former member of the Obama State Department until 2013. 

“This appears to be a story largely ginned up, partly as a distraction from this larger investigation,” Sciutto said.

The pushback comes as Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales MORE (R-Ky.) said on Monday that Rice should testify under oath to address multiple reports that she had unmasked the identities of Americans associated with the Trump campaign and transition team. 

Bloomberg News columnist Eli Lake reported Monday that Rice had requested the identities of individuals in intelligence reports associated with Trump’s transition team and campaign dozens of times. Fox News's Adam Housley reported the same, as had conservative blogger Mark Cernovich on Sunday.