Before we get to Susan Rice, first things first. Every scandal needs a catchy nickname so we can avoid repeating drawn-out descriptions. One-word nicknames are best, especially for those who traffic in tabloids and television.
Absent a better choice, this one shall be known as SpyGate. Spy because there is mounting evidence the Obama administration spied on Team Trump. And Gate because ever since Watergate, big scandals and wannabe big scandals must be Gate. It’s a rule.
We also need a memorable question or two that points toward the endgame. When Richard Nixon’s fate hung in the balance, the case turned on these: What did the president know and when did he know it?
In SpyGate, the crucial question is this: How do we know that the Obama spying on Team Trump was incidental?
What if it was intentional? What if spying was part of a plot to destroy Trump’s candidacy and, when that failed, sabotage his presidency?
We don’t have verifiable answers yet, despite being assured repeatedly that Trump and his associates merely were picked up in conversations with Russian and other foreign officials who were being spied on. Those doing the assuring said that since the Trumpsters were not the targets, it was incidental and thus no harm, no foul.
But there were lots of harms and fouls. For months, stories about possible collusion between Trump and Russia turned exclusively on leaks about members of Trump’s inner circle being caught talking to Russians.