Two MSNBC personalities on Tuesday night said former national security adviser Susan Rice’s race and gender may be factors in the criticism she is taking from Republicans over the unmasking of two of President Trump's transition team members mentioned in intelligence documents.
MSNBC host Chris Matthews and Mother Jones editor David Corn offered the comments in response to remarks by Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulVaccine 'resisters' are a real problem Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations MORE (R-Ken.) and Rep. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Okla.).
Paul on Tuesday said the former Obama administration official should testify under oath to address multiple reports that she had unmasked the identities of Americans associated with the Trump campaign and transition team.
Cotton referred to Rice as the “Typhoid Mary of the Obama Administration foreign policy.”
“Every time something went wrong, she seemed to turn up in the middle of it,” Cotton said of Rice during an Tuesday interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Corn said there is not “an iota of evidence that she's abused anything” on Tuesday night’s “Hardball,” which is hosted by Matthews.
“Calling her Typhoid Mary? All we know now is that she did her job,” he continued.
“Did she do something wrong? There is no information indicating that. So they are making her, you know, basically they're defaming her without any reason to do so because she's a woman. Maybe because she's a black woman. Maybe because they didn't like her during Benghazi.”
Rice found herself at the center of controversy in 2012 when she made a series of appearances on all five Sunday morning talk shows to discuss the Benghazi terrorist attacks that left four Americans dead. Rice cited an anti-Islam YouTube video as the reason behind the terrorist attack, a now discredited claim.
Earlier in the segment, Matthews also cited Rice's gender as a possible motive behind the criticism.
“Notice it's always a female? Just a thought,” observed Matthews, a former speechwriter under President Carter.
Rice told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Tuesday that the Obama administration did not inappropriately spy on Trump or members of his transition team.
She said that any unmasking of unidentified people in intelligence reports was done as part of her job, denying that politics were involved.
“The allegation is that somehow, Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes,” Rice said. “That’s absolutely false."
Republicans have repeatedly expressed outrage about leaks related to investigations of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible links between Russia and the Trump administration.
Democrats have accused the Trump administration of raising the issues surrounding Rice to take attention away from the Russia probe.