Fox News host Greg Gutfeld went after former National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s ambivalent comments concerning her alleged spying on President Donald Trump’s transition team, saying she was “pulling a Sgt. Schultz.”
The reference comes from the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes, in which the bumbling German Sgt. Hans Schultz often averted his eyes from the shenanigans of the POWs in his charge, exclaiming, “I know nothing! I see nothing!”
“Maybe she can blame her amnesia on an episode of Hogan’s Heroes,” Gutfeld suggested.
On Monday, Bloomberg View released a report stating that Rice, in connection with the investigation of alleged Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election, had sought to unmask members of Trump’s transition team, requesting the names of individuals connected with Trump’s transition team in “raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions.”
Normally the names of persons not directly under surveillance are redacted from reports when those individuals are incidentally involved with persons who are being monitored.
Rice did not deny filing those requests. When asked directly about her actions, she declined to comment except to say she “knew nothing” about members of the Trump team having been swept up in an intelligence-gathering operation.
“I leaked nothing to nobody,” she also said.
But throughout Rice’s tenure as national security adviser, requests for redacted names apparently were routine.
“It was not uncommon, it was necessary at times to make those requests,” she said. “I don’t have a particular recollection of doing that more frequently after the election.”
Comparing theories about unmasking or leaking and theories about Russian collusion, Gutfeld said “in the evidence sweepstakes, the leak story is on firmer ground.”
Speaking on his program The Five, Gutfeld described how the issue splits Americans into two camps, those who believe Rice played dirty and inappropriately monitored members of the Trump transition team, and those who believe she had reason to do so because of Trump’s alleged involvement with Russia.
For those in the latter camp, ill-fated former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s backdoor diplomacy, the possibility of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and even the president’s own business connections justified extraordinary measures.
Moreover, as Gutfeld pointed out, Rice’s actions were not illegal — but it is troubling that she has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for why she obtained the intelligence data.
Gutfeld also suggested the possibility of “reverse monitoring.”
“They say they’re recording Igor but they really want you instead,” which, in Gutfeld’s words, is “legal but not cool.”
Government members involved with national security can gain access to incidental collection legally, says Robert Deitz, a former counselor at both the CIA and NSA, according to Business Insider.
“The identities of U.S. persons may be released under two circumstances: 1) the identity is needed to make sense of the intercept; 2) if a crime is involved in the conversation,” Deitz said.