As Susan Rice faces growing calls to testify under oath, the former Obama administration official now accused of ordering the unmasking of Trump officials under surveillance is suggesting that she never did so for political purposes, and that it is sometimes "necessary" for investigative purposes.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a member of both the Senate Judiciary and Select Committee on Intelligence, suggested in a tweet earlier Tuesday that Rice "needs to testify under oath."
He included a link to a Wall Street Journal piece "Susan Rice Unmasked," a report that suggests Rice had sought the name of at least one Trump official in intelligence reports at a time when reports on Russia were reportedly being circulated broadly, according to a former intelligence official.
Responding to the accusation, Rice suggested in an interview on Tuesday that she "absolutely" did not order the unmasking of individuals for political purposes, and suggested that sometimes such a request would be necessary for an investigation.
"The allegation is that somehow Obama administration officials utilized intelligence for political purposes," Rice told MSNBC, "that is absolutely false.”
She said there were times she reviewed a report that referred to an American who was unnamed.
“And sometimes, in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request the information as to find out who that U.S. official was,” Rice said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who also serves on the Judiciary Committee, told Fox News earlier that while he doesn't know whether Rice acted improperly, “when it comes to Susan Rice, you need to verify, not trust.”
He said he does not want to form an opinion – just yet.
"There's a way to find out,” Graham said. “I intend to find out.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took things one step further, suggesting Rice "ought to be under subpoena," adding that the stories emerging about Rice are "actually eerily similar to what Trump accused them of, which is eavesdropping on conversations for political reasons."
Paul also suggested Rice needs to be asked whether she communicated with President Obama directly about the surveillance information.
There were reports late Tuesday that Rice will be called to testify before the House Intelligence Committee about the ongoing probe. And in a letter to both the House and Senate Intelligence committees released Tuesday night, a group of lawmakers who served as members of the Trump transition demanded that Rice be called to testify, suggesting the matter is worthy of an immediate Congressional investigation.
In the letter, Reps Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Chris Collins, R-New York, and Lou Barletta, R-Penn, suggest Rice's behavior "appears negligent at best and criminal at worst."
When asked on Tuesday if she would testify, Rice said she wanted to see what happened but didn't want to "pre-judge."
In a tweet earlier today, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich also pointed out what she sees as the irony in the situation.
"Democrats have gone from: Trump is insane for suggesting Obama admin spied on him,” the tweet said, “[to] Susan Rice was just doing her job."