President Obama defends Susan Rice against criticism from John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly AyottePosted by Ed O'Keefe on November 14, 2012 at 1:28 pm
President Obama strongly defended U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice against attacks Wednesday by a trio of Republican senators who said she is ill-qualified to serve as secretary of state because of how she explained the roots of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Bristling with evident indignation during a news conference, Obama said Rice has “done exemplary work” with “skill, professionalism and toughness and grace.”
He then made a pointedly and almost personal challenge to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) who earlier Wednesday said Rice is unqualified to lead the State Department because she appeared either misinformed or ill-prepared to discuss the attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, on national political talk shows a few days after the attack.
“If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody they should go after me,” Obama said. “For them to go after the UN ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi…to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”Obama said he hasn’t made any final decisions on who to nominate to Cabinet posts in his second term, but said that he would not hesitate to nominate Rice even in the face of Republican opposition.
Graham responded to Obama’s comments by e-mail just as the press conference concluded.
“Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi,” Graham said in a statement. “I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.”
Graham joined with McCain and Ayotte Wednesday to call for Watergate-style hearings on the Libya attack, while also saying they would block Rice’s nomination, if it occurs.
“I am dead-set on making sure that we don’t promote anybody who was an essential player in the Benghazi debacle,” Graham told reporters.
McCain added later that they would not rule out mounting a filibuster of the nomination.
Excerpt: Read More at the Washington PostHow can a sitting Senator like Graham make such a statement to the President of the United States? Has he jumped the shark with the fact that McCain lost in 2008 and now Romney lost in 2012 to Barack Obama? Then there is this from Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast which made me chuckle as he nailed what happened in the President's Press Conference:
Ya Think Susan Rice Is Happy Today?
Did you watch the press conference? Wowzie, zowie, that was quite a throw-down at McCain and Graham. Of course they've had that coming for a long time in my view.
McCain thinks he was elected president. He is a bully, and he must be spoken to like a bully. Also, this nonsense of his about a "Watergate-style" committee on Benghazi is an outrage. As the journalist Michael Cohen just tweeted: "So did John McCain call for a Watergate-style commission after 3,000 Americans were killed on 9/11?"
That language was as personal and direct and harsh as I've ever heard a president use about a couple of sitting senators. He is pissed. It'll be a bit of a letdown now if he doesn't nominate Rice to Foggy Bottom, which I'm still guessing he won't at the end of the day.
Here is the clincher to the whole McCain/Graham attacks about Benghazi as they held a press conference while McCain was skipping the Briefing on Benghazi in order to continue to grandstand. McCain, when confronted about his absence, refused to answer:
McCain Skipped A Briefing On Benghazi To Hold A Press ConferenceBy Igor Volsky posted from ThinkProgress Security on Nov 15, 2012 at 10:51 am
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is demanding a special select committee to investigate the events leading up to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya and has held around-the-clock television appearances pressing for a complete review of the incident.
But all of the senator’s media interviews and press availabilities may be interfering with his ability to gather information about the event. On Thursday morning, CNN’s Dana Bash reported that McCain chose to hold a joint press conference with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) rather than attend a closed-door briefing about the attacks:
I have to tell you something that just happened on Capitol Hill, and that is our senate producer Ted Barrett just ran into John McCain and asked about something that we’re hearing from Democrats, which is John McCain is calling for more information to Congress, but he had a press conference yesterday instead of going to a closed briefing where administration officials were giving more information. Well, Ted Barrett asked John McCain about that, and it was apparently an intense very angry exchange and McCain simply would not comment on it at all.
Excerpt: Read More at Think Progress SecurityIt did not go unnoticed by Maine Senator Susan Collins who was not happy at all with her fellow Republican Senator. No wonder Sen Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is retiring. Putting up with the Republican white male obstructionists like McCain/Graham in the Senate must have done her in completely. Then there is Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who has also been calling for more information on Benghazi who was also not at the Benghazi hearing. Now it is confirmed that McCain puts being in front of the press to spout his attacks on UN Ambassador Susan Rice ahead of doing his job as a US Senator:
Republicans skip Benghazi hearing; complain about lack of information on Benghazi Posted By Josh Rogin Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 10:37 AM
This week, a number of Republican senators have strongly criticized the administration for failing to properly explain the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. Some of those senators failed to show up for a briefing on the attack Wednesday.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has been the leading congressional critic of the administration's handling of the Benghazi attack and what he sees as the administration's lack of candor with Congress on the matter. On Wednesday, he pledged to block the potential nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due to Rice's statements on the attack. That drew a sharp rebuke from President Barack Obama at Wednesday's press conference.
But although McCain had time to speak on the Senate floor and on television about the lack of information provided to Congress about the attack, he didn't attend the classified briefing for senators Wednesday given to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which he is a member.
Committee ranking Republican Susan Collins (R-ME) called out McCain for skipping the briefing and said his call for a special committee to investigate the Benghazi attack was not necessary because the Homeland Security committee could handle it.
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), "who was there at briefing, and Senator McCain, who was not, are members of our committee, and I know they would play very important roles," Collins told Politico.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another Homeland Security committee member who was on television complaining about the lack of Benghazi information, also did not show up for the Wednesday hearing. Paul did a CNN interview from the Capitol building Wednesday in which said he had questions about the anti-Islam video, the lack of Marines in Libya, and diplomatic security. At one point he says, "I don't know enough of the details."
Excerpt: Read More at The CableBottom Line is that it doesn't look like the Republicans in the Senate are any more willing to be reasonable then they have been for the last four years. American people did not elect them to be obstructionists but to do the job of the American people. Grandstanding before the media to attack the UN Ambassador Dr. Susan Rice with lies and innuendos to try and keep her from being Secretary of State doesn't say a lot about the character of McCain and Graham. Are they tired of women as Secretary of State as only white males should be in power? That is how they are coming across today.
In a press conference in the U.S. Capitol today, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., argued that Rice, currently the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, misled the American people when addressing the September 11 attacks in Libya, which resulted in the death of four Americans."Somebody has got to start paying a price around this place," said Graham. "I don't think she deserves to be promoted. There are a lot of qualified people in this country the president could pick, but I am dead-set on making sure we don't promote anybody that was an essential player in the Benghazi debacle."
There is even a more ominous signal coming out of these attacks on Rice. Congressman James Clyburn from South Carolina spoke last night that he cannot believe that Senator Graham is part of this attack on Susan Rice because he considers him a friend. Dr. Susan Rice comes from South Carolina as Clyburn knows her and her family well. Is Graham playing to the bigotry of the GOP in South Carolina with his attacks on Rice? If he is, then he has lost my full respect. I hate to even think that but that is how this attacks. I sincerely hope I am proven wrong.