Republican Senators John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, and Lindsey Graham led the charge against Susan Rice in the wake of the Benghazi attacks, but it turns out that not even her decision to take herself out of the running for secretary of state is enough to end those attacks.
Today in a press conference on the Benghazi report released this week, Graham ripped Rice again for her comments in TV show appearances only a few days after the attack. “I believe firmly now more than ever, that the story she told on five national television shows was more of a political story than it was informing the American people,” he said. “Who changed the talking points?”
Rice confirmed repeatedly that she used talking points provided by the CIA. By Graham’s logic, talking points issued days after the event must have been false because they did not match a thorough report released three months later.
Some of the specific language that McCain, Ayotte, and Graham continue to criticize, blaming protesters rather than terrorists for the attacks, was included in a resolution they agreed to pass in the days after the attack. The resolution read “The violence in Benghazi coincided with an attack on the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, which was also swarmed by an angry mob of protestors on September 11, 2012,” and was passed unanimously by the Senate, meaning that all 100 senators officially sponsored or co-sponsored it.
Graham also seemed to question Rice’s trustworthiness as well. “I just did not believe that our country is going to be well served by people who I quite frankly I didn’t trust,” he said of her possible nomination for secretary of state. “Susan Rice, let’s just get to the heart of the matter – I don’t question her character or patriotism – I just thought she was very eager to tell a story that did not make a lot of sense.”
The renewed attacks come on the same day that Obama named Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry as his pick to head the State Department, a move that many thought was fueling the Republican attacks on Rice, who was the only other name of the president’s short list. Many expect outgoing Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown to run for Kerry’s vacant seat. McCain even went so far as to jokingly refer to Kerry as “secretary” in a press conference recently.
Ultimately, these attacks on the State Department and Ambassador Rice still point back to the president. Graham said today, “You can’t allow any administration, Republican or Democrats, to get the glory of good operations and not accept the blame that comes when things go badly.” When it comes to the Obama administration Graham seems to be more eager to blame than praise.