Susan Rice is at the center of the storm over reports that she “unmasked” the names of Trump campaign and transition officials, as described in our prior post, Susan Rice unmasked? Previously said “I know nothing about” Nunes allegations.

Given Rice’s past tattered history with regard to the Benghazi video, it’s almost a certainty that there now will be dual track congressional investigations — of alleged Trump campaign interactions with Russia and Obama administration attempts to undermine the incoming administration.

Seeking to quiet the storm, Rice appeared on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show. Mitchell would be viewed as a safe space for Rice in which Rice could explain away the issue.

Mitchell’s intro set the stage, accusing the White House of using “smoke and mirrors.”

I’ll have the video and transcript when available.

(video added)

Mitchell’s questions allowed Rice to confuse the issue by mixing unmasking and leaking, and also framing questions as to intent rather than the facts of what happened.

Rice did not deny unmasking names of Trump campaign and transition persons, but rather, refused to name names and went back into a defense of lack of bad intent.

“I received those reports, and there were occasions I would receive a report in which a U.S. person” … “and sometimes it was necessary to find out who that U.S. official was.” Rice didn’t dispute that sometimes she requested identification. She said intelligence community made decision whether to disclose the name she had requested.

“Absolutely not for any political purpose”

She denied leaking any information. But that’s also a distraction. The issue is whether unmasking and dissemination enabled others to leak.

She refused to get into “any particular report” because it would require disclosure of classified information.

“Were there more reports provided to senior U.S. officials … Yes”

Will Rice appear before Congress: “I’m not going to sit here and prejudge” whether willing to testify before Congress.

This did not quiet the controversy.

This tweet accurately sums up how the defense of Rice has shifted: