Putin is 'Lying' About Russian Meddling, Says Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice

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Former national security adviser Susan Rice said Russian President Vladimir Putin was lying during an interview on ABC News Sunday. Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is “lying” when he denies Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. election, says former U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice.

In an interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly broadcast over the weekend, Putin dismissed the findings of American intelligence agencies that Russian intelligence directed hacking on U.S. political parties during the race for the White House as a “load of nonsense.” 

“Frankly, he's lying,” Rice said during an appearance on ABC News This Week early Sunday after portions of the NBC interview were released. Rice served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser from 2013 to early 2017.

“The reality is,” Rice said, that “all of our intelligence agencies have come together to affirm with high confidence, the Russian government, at the highest levels, was behind the very unprecedented effort to meddle in our 2016 presidential election.”

Read more: Intelligence reports show Susan Rice didn't break law when she requested names of Trump associates

When asked why American intelligence didn’t do more to warn the public about Russia’s influence on the election, Rice said that they did all they could.

On October 7, a month before the election, the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence “did blow the whistle,” Rice insisted. They issued a statement saying they were confident “the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”

This warning got lost in the coverage of other events, Rice said, because the very same day the "Access Hollywood" videotape emerged—in which Trump appears to boast about sexually assaulting women—as well as more WikiLeaks about the Clinton campaign.

Before his interview with Kelly, Putin joked during a panel discussion that she hosted in St. Petersburg last Friday that her “underage daughter” could have been behind the hacking.

"IP addresses can be invented—a child can do that! Your underage daughter could do that. That is not proof," Putin told Kelly. He claimed that the accusations against Russia are similar to anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories “blaming the Jews." He also said that the hackers could have been “patriotic” Russians who are not connected to the Russian government.

Two independent studies of the hacks by the private security firms Secure Works and Crowd Strike last year found evidence tying them back to Russian intelligence.

In light of this, Rice said it was “not a good idea” for the Trump administration to move ahead with its plans to return two diplomatic properties to Russia, which were sanctioned by Obama as a result of the hacks late last year.

“Let's be clear. Russia is an adversary,” Rice told ABC News. “Those sanctions should remain because Russia hasn't changed its behavior. It has just denied and obfuscated and continued to behave badly.” Reports indicate that the Trump administration would get little in return for handing over the properties.

Rice said it is “concerning” to hear recent reports that Trump’s son-in-law, and presidential adviser, Jared Kushner, attempted to set up a communications back channel during the transition with the Russian government based from a Russian diplomatic facility.

“That's extraordinary, if not mind-boggling from the point of view of a national security professional,” Rice said. “I have worked in this field for 25 years. And I have never heard of such a thing.”   

Rice has been criticized by Republicans in recent months after reports she “unmasked” the names of Americans who were picked up in intelligence intercepts communicating with Russian officials.

On Friday, Chairman of the House Intelligence Community, Devin Nunes, subpoenaed the CIA, NSA, and FBI, for any information they have about Rice’s requests to unmask U.S. individuals in intelligence reports.

Rice said she’s confident these documents will show she did nothing wrong and that she was merely doing “what we needed to do to do our jobs, which is to protect the American people.”