With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to step down soon, the thinking is that President Barack Obama will likely appoint UN Ambassador Susan Rice to fill the role in his second term. Though they will have no say over the appointment in practical terms, nearly 100 House Republicans sent a letter to Obama yesterday expressing concern over the potential appointment due to her role in the narrative over Benghazi:
In a letter to Obama, the 97 Republicans said the credibility of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has been gravely wounded by her account of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“Though Ambassador Rice has been our representative to the U.N., we believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world,” Republicans wrote in their letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and sent to Obama on Monday.
Stevens and the three others were killed in the attack on the Benghazi consulate.
The letter says Rice “propagated a falsehood” that the attacks were a spontaneous response to a video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad. The administration then said, more than a week later, that terrorism might have played a role.
“Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter,” the letter says. “Her actions plausibly give U.S. allies (and rivals) abroad reason to question U.S. commitment and credibility when needed.
“Thus, we believe that making her the face of U.S. foreign policy in your second term would greatly undermine your desire to improve U.S. relations with the world and continue to build trust with the American people.”
The Senate is responsible for confirming cabinet members and other presidential appointments, so the view of these House Republicans toward Ambassador Rice , while entirely justified, doesn’t really mean much. However, Senate Republicans have expressed concern over the appointment, which will take 60 votes move forward. Senate Democrats only hold 55 seats.
President Obama has been testy about Rice and the criticism she’s received due to her claiming that the incident in Benghazi was a “spontaneous” protest to an anti-Muslim video gone awry when it was clear to the intelligence community that it was a terrorist attack. However, political realities may force him into picking someone else — like Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), for example — to lead the State Department.