Foreign policy hawk and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, 55, is a top contender to become Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate for the 2020 election.
Gearing up to officially announce his choice in the days before the Aug. 17-20 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Biden, 77, reportedly has held tight to Rice as a short-list candidate, according to Politico.
Here are the first four facts you need to know about her:
1. Rice has been subject to widespread public suspicion with regard to her role in “Spygate”
Rice has been the subject of off-and-on media attention for several years because of suspicions she and other high-ranking Obama administration figures played a role in sparking special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The years-long investigation into whether Trump campaign officials illegally conspired with agents in the Russian intelligence community to hack and release communications from Democratic National Committee servers in order to influence the election came up empty in March 2019 and is believed in conservative circles to have been born under false pretenses.
Rice was eyed throughout 2017 for potentially having helped high-ranking Obama administration officials push intelligence agencies to surveil the Trump campaign when she was revealed to have “improperly unmasked” the classified identities of American campaign operatives flagged for alleged interaction with foreign assets, according to CNN.
Michael Flynn, retired U.S. Army lieutenant general and Trump administration National Security Advisor, was among those unmasked by Rice at the time.
The same controversy arose around Rice again in May, Politico reported, when President Donald Trump declassified a strange email the Obama adviser had sent to herself outlining a Jan. 5, 2017, discussion between Obama and then-FBI Director James Comey with regard to Flynn and the Russia investigation.
“The president stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective,” Rice wrote. “He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book. … Director Comey affirmed that he is proceeding ‘by the book’ as it relates to law enforcement.”
The email raised eyebrows in the media, leading some to believe it had been an explicit attempt to craft a narrative in the written record that all Russia-related inquiries and discussions within the Obama administration had been legitimate.
2. Rice was under consideration for Secretary of State under Obama … until Benghazi
According to The Washington Post, Rice was “well positioned” in 2012 to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in Obama’s second term as president.
A Sept. 11 terrorist attack on American consulate and CIA blacksite in Benghazi, Libya, just weeks before Election Day, however, muddied the waters.
The resulting deaths of diplomat Christopher Stevens and three U.S. military contractors assigned to his security detail led to substantial criticism of the Clinton State Department for its mismanagement of strategic defense operations involving the victimized American assets.
The U.N. ambassador at the time, Rice did little to aid the Obama administration in quieting concerns, according to The Atlantic, instead turning the incident into a full-blown scandal when she and Clinton forwarded to the establishment media unsubstantiated CIA talking points alleging the attacks had been spontaneous.
Rice personally withdrew her name from consideration for the chief role at the State Department in light of the scandal, NBC News reported.
“If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive, and costly—to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,” Rice wrote in a letter to Obama at the time. “Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.”
The position instead went to John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee and former Massachusetts senator.
3. Rice has a long history of advising Democratic presidents and presidential hopefuls
Deemed too great an asset to let go, Rice was transferred to the national security advisor position several months after Obama’s second inaugural address.
Before her role in the Obama administration, Rice had been a recurring fixture in Democratic politics for roughly 20 years.
The aspiring stateswoman and Rhodes scholar made her first foray into the field in 1988, joining Democratic Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis’ presidential campaign as a foreign policy aide.
She went on to serve on the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton between 1993 and 1997 before filling the role of assistant secretary of state for African affairs until the outset of Republican President George W. Bush’s first term.
In moments of Republican executive leadership, Rice worked brief stints as a management and political consultant and spent roughly seven years as a senior fellow at the left-of-center Brookings Institution on Think Tank Row in Washington, D.C.
4. Rice already wants a crack at Vice President Mike Pence
Despite failing to explicitly and publicly mention an intent to serve as vice president if Biden wins the election, Rice seems more than aware she remains a serious contender for the role, highlighting her credentials and fighting spirit in recent moments with the media.
According to CNBC, Rice told radio host Rickey Smiley last week that she welcomes the idea of a debate with Pence.
“Bring that one on; that’s all I’ll say,” she said.
The potential vice presidential candidate went on to suggest her experience in Washington would be indisposable on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“I have served in the executive branch in the White House at the top levels of the federal government for almost two decades,” Rice said. “I know how to make things work and how to get stuff done.”
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