Facing an uncertain path to succeeding Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, Susan Rice met with some Senate Republicans yesterday who have expressed opposition to her possible nomination due to comments made after the terrorist attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi, Libya, during which four Americans died.
Five days after the September 11th attack on the consulate, Rice, who currently serves as Obama’s UN Ambassador, appeared on Sunday talk shows, claiming that the incident was a “spontaneous” protest gone arwy. Intelligence officials, including former CIA Director David Petraeus have said that was quickly apparent that the incident was a terrorist attack, not a protest. Rice’s comments indicate that there was more to the post-Benghazi narrative that faulty intelligence.
While Rice was hoping to alleviate concerns with Senate Republicans over her role in the post-Benghazi narrative, the meeting seems to have had the opposite affect, according to The Hill:
During a meeting on Capitol Hill that lasted for more than an hour, Rice acknowledged “there was no protest” at the consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11 and said that talking points she relied on for making that claim were wrong.
But Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John McCain (Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) said they were not satisfied with the ambassador’s answers to their questions.
“Bottom line, I’m more disturbed now than I was before [by] the 16 September explanation about how four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya, by Ambassador Rice,” said Graham.
“We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn’t get concerning some of the evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on our consulate,” McCain said.
In a statement following Tuesday’s meeting, Rice acknowledged “there was no protest or demonstration” in Benghazi and said she had relied on faulty briefing notes prepared by the intelligence community.
“We explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: there was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi,” Rice said.
“While we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved,” she added.
“We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the Administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the Administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.”
While Senate Democrats will have a 55-seat majority at the beginning of the next Congress, they still need 60 votes to push through a nomination to any cabinet post. Right now, it’s very unlikely that Rice will be able to get through the Senate with so many unanswered questions about security failures before the Benghazi attack and the post-attack narrative.