Former national security adviser Susan Rice, who worked under former President Barack Obama, denied an invitation to speak at a Senate hearing next week.
Rice famously spied on millions of Americans, including then-candidate Donald Trump, at the request of Obama.
The Senate is currently investigating those claims and requested Rice to appear at a hearing to provide a testimony.
A source familiar with Rice’s discussions told CNN that when Graham invited her, Rice believed it was a bipartisan overture and was prepared to accept. However, Whitehouse indicated to her that the invitation was made without his agreement, as he believed her presence was not relevant to the topic of the hearing, according to the source.
Rice considered the invitation a “diversionary play” to distract attention from the investigation into Russian election interference, including contacts between Trump allies and Russians during the campaign, the source said.Graham first told CNN before the letter was sent that he had invited Rice before the Senate panel to determine whether the Obama administration “tried to politicize intelligence” — part of his broader investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper are set to testify.Despite declining the appearance, Rice’s lawyer assured Graham and Whitehouse in the letter that she was “prepared to assist Congressional inquiries into Russian election interference because of the important national interests at stake, provided they are conducted in a bipartisan manner, and, as appropriate, in classified session.”