Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice is claiming she had a "creepy" encounter with President Trump in which he praised her and sympathized with her treatment over the Benghazi, Libya, controversy.
“He hugs me and while he’s hugging me, he whispers into my ear, 'I think you were very unfairly treated over Benghazi and you’re doing a great job for the country,'" Rice told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday.
Rice's claim came with the release of her new book, “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For," in which she discussed, in part, the Obama administration's response to the 2011 attacks in Benghazi.
Years later, Trump allegedly tried complimenting Rice at the 2015 White House Correspondents' Dinner. Rice claimed he grabbed her by the shoulders and "sort of" pulled her out of her chair even though she'd never met him.
The hug wasn't "gross," Rice said, but the whole exchange struck her as "kind of creepy" because she had never met him. "But then what he said was most striking because as you know well, he spent many months and years before that and then every day since assailing President Obama, questioning his citizenship, and trashing people like me who served with the president every day."
Rice added that the encounter was an "early indication of the gap between what Donald Trump says privately and what he actually thinks and what he says publicly." Co-host Mika Brzezinski chimed in, saying that she's been hugged by Trump and that "his hugs can be gross."
Rice was roundly criticized by Republicans after she appeared on multiple Sunday shows to discuss the attacks in Benghazi, Libya. In her book, Rice wrote about her decision to withdraw from consideration for secretary of state following the outcry. Rice’s 9-year-old daughter was undergoing tests for “frightening hallucinations” and Rice’s mother was “traumatized,” she wrote.
But Rice explained that she "would have felt guilty and selfish" if she had refused to go on the shows that fateful Sunday. "I am a team player, and I don't like shunting off on others what I am capable of doing." In hindsight, however, she said: "By deferring to that instinct, by putting the cause and the team first, I did myself a disservice."
According to the book, Rice's mother was suspicious of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Where is Hillary?" she asked her daughter. Rice was chosen by the White House to appear on the shows in Clinton's place.
Rice, on Wednesday, appeared on "The View" where she decried Trump's decision to remove troops from Syria. She also clashed with co-host Meghan McCain who asked how Rice could criticize Trump given the Obama administration's actions in the Middle East.
Although Rice praised Trump's decision to use military strikes against Syria in response to chemical weapons attacks, she defended the Obama administration's relatively tepid response during his second term.
Rice said that she was the "lone dissenting voice" among Cabinet members who thought it was a mistake to ask Congress for authorization to use force. Upon reflecting on that situation, Rice decided she was wrong to favor force and thought Obama was successful in leveraging diplomacy after the nation's chemical weapons attacks.
"I was right about the politics -- I didn't think that President Obama would be granted support from Congress and he wasn't -- but I think I was wrong about the policy," she said.
"Because at the end of the day, it was possible through diplomacy to get 1,300 metric tons of sarin gas and chemical weapons out of Syria."
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.