The Slatest

Susan Rice Recalls “Totally Gross” Hug From Trump Amid Twitter Feud Over Syria

Former national security adviser Susan Rice speaks at the Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C. on September 25, 2019.
Former national security adviser Susan Rice speaks at the Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C. on September 25, 2019. NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

President Donald Trump and Susan Rice, who was national security adviser under President Barack Obama, got into a Twitter spat late Friday over Syria. It all began after Rice appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher to discuss her new book, Tough Love, and also criticized Trump for his foreign policy decisions involving Syria and Iraq. She said that “it’s going nowhere good” and predicted “ISIS is going to come back” following Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria. “What we’re going to lose as a result of what Donald Trump has done in Syria is we’re going to have a whole terrorist resurgence,” Rice said.

Rice also warned that the United States was more vulnerable to foreign meddling because of the divisions sparked by Trump’s presidency. “What Putin’s genius is, is he understands that we are so divided internally,” Rice said. “And I argue in my book, Tough Love, that our domestic political divisions are, in fact, our greatest national security vulnerability.”

Trump lashed out against Rice as the show was ending, calling the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations “a disaster” twice in one tweet. “Susan Rice, who was a disaster to President Obama as National Security Advisor, is now telling us her opinion on what to do in Syria,” Trump wrote. “No thanks Susan, you were a disaster.”

Rice quickly fired back and said the president didn’t always feel the same way, saying he sang a very different tune at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2015. “Then why did you come up and hug me at 2015 WHCD when I’d never met you (which was totally gross) and whisper in my ear that I had been ‘very unfairly treated’ over Benghazi and ‘was doing a great job for the country’?” she wrote.

The Hill wrote about the hug back in 2015, describing it as “a huge and dramatic hug in the middle of the Washington Hilton ballroom.” At the time Trump was overheard whispering in Rice’s ear that “Nothing’s easy in life.” The pair then “flashed huge smiles” as people snapped photographs. “Rice and a companion were seen chuckling wildly after the embrace, quipping to one another, ‘What do you call that — molestation?’ before cracking up some more in nearly delirious laughter,” reported the Hill. Trump then had some nice things to say about Rice when he was asked about the hug. “She’s a good woman,” Trump said. “And nothing in life is easy, there’s no question about it.”

The timing of Trump’s tweet suggests he was watching Maher’s show live on Friday night, although he has said in the past that he watched the program without really intending to do so. In August, Trump tweeted that he “got to see, by accident, wacko comedian Bill Maher’s show” before going on to complain about “so many lies” in the program.