President Obama reacted angrily to threats from GOP senators to block an expected nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of State because of Ms. Rice’s statements in the aftermath of the attacks in Benghazi, calling the criticism of her “outrageous” and pledging not to change his decision-making based on them.
“If they want to go after somebody, they should go after me and I’m happy to have that conversation with them, but for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation … and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous,” he said during a press conference with reporters Wednesday.
Mr. Obama pledged to to cooperate with the investigations into the attack on Benghazi that killed four Americans “any way that Congress wants.”
But he said Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who have criticized Mrs. Rice for initially blaming the assault on a mob reaction to an anti-Islam film instead of a calling it a terrorist attack, “have a problem with me” when they “go after the U.N. ambassador apparently because they think they have an easy target.”
“If I choose that she is the best person to be nominated to fill the State Department [position], I will nominate her,” he said. “That is not a decision I’ve made yet.”
Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham earlier Wednesday said they would do “whatever is necessary” — including a filibuster — to stop Ms. Rice from becoming the next secretary of state, if Mr. Obama nominates her.
Ms. Rice, along with Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, are reportedly being considered to replace Mrs. Clinton when she steps down.
“I don’t trust her and the reason I don’t trust her is because I thinks she knew better and if she didn’t know better she shouldn’t be the voice of America,” Mr. Graham said Wednesday. “I don’t think she deserves to be promoted, there are a lot of qualified people in this country the president could prick but I am dead set on making sure we don’t promote anybody who is an essential player in the Benghazi debacle.”
Mr. McCain echoed the sentiments.
“My judgment at this time is that four Americans were killed and that the information that the UN ambassador conveyed was clearly false,” he said. “There’s overwhelming evidence that it was completely false and she should have known what the situation and circumstances were and not tell the world on all the Sunday morning shows.”