GOP senators hit Rice for refusal to testify before Senate panel

GOP senators hit Rice for refusal to testify before Senate panel
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Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Biden move to tap oil reserves draws GOP pushback MORE (R-S.C.) on Wednesday jabbed former national security adviser Susan Rice for declining to testify before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

“At an appropriate time, I expect we will continue down this path," Graham, who chairs the subcommittee on crime and terrorism, said in a statement. "I hope Ms. Rice will come before the committee – and not just the press.” 

President Trump accused Rice last month of improperly unmasking the identifies of members of his transition team who were caught up in surveillance by the intelligence community of foreign agents.

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Rice appeared on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" over the weekend, where she fervently denied the allegations, arguing that she had not done anything improper with intelligence she received during her tenure as former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPolitics must accept the reality of multiracial America and disavow racial backlash To empower parents, reinvent schools Senate race in Ohio poses crucial test for Democrats MORE's national security adviser. 

Earlier Wednesday, she declined an invitation from Graham to testify before the subcommittee. In a letter to Graham and the subcommittee's ranking member, Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure MORE (D-R.I.), Rice's lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, dismissed Graham's invitation as a "diversionary play" to distract from a broader congressional investigation into Russian election meddling and alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Ruemmler also argued that Whitehouse had not agreed to invite Rice to the hearing and that Graham acted on his own. That argument, however, was largely shot down by the Senate Judiciary Committee's top lawmakers.

"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," full committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP blocks bill to expand gun background checks after Michigan school shooting GOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks MORE (R-Iowa) said in a statement. "No investigation will be complete until her role is understood."

Likewise, the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinWhat's that you smell in the Supreme Court? New variant raises questions about air travel mandates Progressive groups urge Feinstein to back filibuster carve out for voting rights or resign MORE (Calif.), seemed unmoved by Rice's argument and urged her to reconsider her decision not to testify. 

"She has gone public. I saw her on Fareed’s show Sunday. I saw her today," Feinstein said on MSNBC's "MTP Daily" shortly after the letter was made public. "I’ve never heard that it has to be a bipartisan letter — this is sort of a new criteria."