Former U.S. NSA turns down request to testify on Russian hacking

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Former U.S. National Security Advisor (NSA) Susan Rice has turned down the request to testify before a Senate judiciary subcommittee investigating Russian attempts to influence the U.S. election, CNN reported.

The Senate judiciary subcommittee on crime and terrorism is being headed by Senator Lindsey Graham.

The CNN report is based on a letter by Rice's lawyer Kathryn Ruemmler.

The letter, addressed to Graham and senior Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, outlines the grounds of Susan's refusal to accede to the Senator Graham's request to testify before the judiciary subcommittee.

"Senator Whitehouse has informed us by letter that he did not agree to Chairman Graham's invitation to Ambassador Rice, a significant departure from the bipartisan invitations extended to other witnesses. Under these circumstances, Ambassador Rice respectfully declines Senator Graham's invitation to testify," CNN quoted Ruemmler as saying in the letter.

Citing a 'source', the report said that 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".

A source familiar with Rice's discussions told CNN that Rice's initial acceptance of the invitation from Graham was based on the presupposition that it was a bipartisan request.

"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," the source added.

The CNN report, however, said that Ruemmler told Graham and Whitehouse in the letter that "Rice is prepared to assist Congressional inquiries into Russian election interference due to important national interests at stake, provided they are conducted in a bipartisan manner, and, as appropriate, in classified session".

The U.S. intelligence agencies have said that the Russian Government was involved in the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections to favour Donald Trump in order to harm Hillary Clinton's chances of moving to the White House. (ANI)
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