Collins leaves Rice meeting with questions; says Kerry would be confirmed easily
November 28th, 2012
12:05 PM ET
1 year ago

Collins leaves Rice meeting with questions; says Kerry would be confirmed easily

Washington (CNN) – Centrist Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joined her GOP colleagues Wednesday in questioning the role Susan Rice – the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations – played in the days following a deadly attack at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Collins, speaking after a meeting with Rice on Capitol Hill, said Rice was playing a political role when she appeared on television to explain the attack that left four Americans dead stemmed from protests of an anti-Islam video. That video now appears not to have been a factor in the Benghazi attack.

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"I still have many questions that remain unanswered," said Collins, who is recognized as one of the Senate's most moderate Republicans. "I continue to be troubled by the fact that the U.N. ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign by agreeing to go on the Sunday shows to present the administration's position."

She also said she was not ready to confirm support for Rice should she be nominated by President Barack Obama to become the next secretary of state. While no name has yet been put forth by the White House, many speculate Rice would be a top choice to succeed Hillary Clinton in the role of the nation's top diplomat.

"I would need to have additional information before I could support her nomination," Collins said, adding she thought another potential nominee – Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts – would be "easily confirmed by his colleagues."

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, speaking after his meeting with Rice Wednesday, called the issue of Benghazi "a tawdry affair," and encouraged Obama to "step back for a moment" before nominating Rice to be secretary of state.

"All of us here hold the secretary of state to a very different standard than most cabinet members," Corker said.

Adding a new wrinkle to the questioning of Rice, Collins said the U.S. envoy's role in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack was particularly jarring since Rice was closely involved in the State Department's response to the 1998 embassy bombing in Africa. At the time, Rice was serving as the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

"What troubles me so much is the Benghazi attack in many ways echoes the attacks on those embassies in 1998 when Susan Rice was head of the African region for our State Department," Collins said. "In both cases the ambassador begged for additional security."

Collins' remarks echo statements from Sen. McCain, who on Tuesday said he and fellow Republicans Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham were "significantly troubled" by many of the answers they received from Rice, who met with the trio on Tuesday.

"It was clear that the information that she gave the American people was incorrect when she said that it was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video," McCain said. "There was compelling evidence at the time that was certainly not the case, including statements by Libyans as well as other Americans who are fully aware that people don't bring mortars and rocket propelled grenades to a spontaneous demonstration."

In defending her remarks, Rice has said she was using de-classified talking points that did not reference the attack as a pre-meditated terror attack, and the spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence later said those talking points were prepared by the intelligence community, and not modified by other governmental agencies.

"When discussing the attacks on our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary," Rice told reporters last Wednesday.

Republicans have questioned why the administration used Rice as their spokeswoman, rather than an official more closely involved with the investigation. Her appearances on the five network and cable Sunday talk shows to discuss the Benghazi attacks also coincided with the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, during which Rice has generally made television appearances.

Asked by journalists about Rice during a photo opportunity at the White House Wednesday, Obama called his U.N. ambassador "extraordinary" and said he "couldn't prouder of the job she's done."


Filed under: Susan Collins • Susan Rice
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. matt

    This isn't about politics. Obama floated Kerry's name when Clinton announced she was going to step down.

    Susan Rice did what she was told...and that was to release information that would keep the Obama campaign from looking bad. She did her job. She got caught and now the people are holding her feet to the fire. She needs to step aside from SOS talks and hope she can hold the job she already has.

    Susan Rice is a disgrace to the United States, to the UN and to the 4 people who died in Libya.

    November 28, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I agree. Stop meeting with these jerks they are not interested in anything you have to say. They are only looking to extend by hook or by crook their time in the spotlight.
    McCain, Graham, and the woman (whatever her name and claim is)..when was the last time that they were in the news over anything positive? What have they contributed to the well-being of the country? Who are they really?
    Nobodies. That's right.
    Bakc to you Ms. Rice. Stop playing into their claws, and shut up.

    November 28, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. lolo

    @John , please tell where you got your information? You Republicans are just a sorry lot. Get over it. You need to tell those good old boys that if they do not tow the line they will be gone in 2014 period. Speaking of lying sounds like to me that you were okay with Romneyhood lying through his teeth to get elected. I wonder why? Your cheating and lying didn't work this time. We the people of The United States surely did let your party realize that we are in control. Not the good old boys and rich spoiled brats.

    November 28, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F

    John – The stupidity from Fox foreign owned media knows no bounds. They have convinced the easily mislead with their crazy conspiracy theories. Take a deep breath, remember 9-11-2001, the unfunded unnecessary war in Iraq, the tax cuts for the rich, TARP, the Bush/republican near depression, and you will snap out of it, and start on the path to being normal.

    November 28, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Whatever McCain USED to be, he is no longer.
    He's become a redundant cog, and a classless sore-loser.

    November 28, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  6. Independent jim

    I wonder why republican senators never questioned Colin Powell or Condolessa Rice about their talking points .WMDs The Famous Mushroom Cloud . all straight up lies designed to lead the US into war with Iraq ,and left over 5,000 dead and over 15,000 maimed..all just a lie that was repeated and repeated

    November 28, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Mac

    Everyone knows she and Obama lied but they will never be held accountable for it. Obama lies with abandon and will continue to do so since the media lapdogs are all in the tank.

    November 28, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I would need to have additional information before I could support her nomination," Collins said, adding she thought another potential nominee – Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts – would be "easily confirmed by his colleagues"

    So there you go folks. This "controversy" has nothing to do about Benghazi and everything to do with politics. Senator John Kerry to be exact. And the loss of his Democratic Senate seat should he be "easily confirmed" by his Republican colleagues.

    The only lying going on now is the lying being done by GOPers to make Susan Rice a scapegoat for getting that Massachusetts Senate seat back into Scott Brown territory.

    November 28, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. @GuileOfTheGods

    Ummm, if you left the meeting with questions... WHY DIDN'T YOU ASK THEM???? Oooh, because complaining & whining is so much easier!

    November 28, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. @GuileOfTheGods

    John
    This could have all been avoided had Obama not made the decision to lie to America....
    The fact is, this is an impeachable offense, I hope they pursue it...
    Obama is not trustworthy....

    So when and how did Obama lie to America? Because your side likes to say that until they are blue in the face, but they never have any evidence that he lied. A lie is when you know the truth, but purposely say something other than the truth to deceive the public. So I can assume you have access to files that the CIA and President Obama have access to, so you can show proof that Obama knew the truth & told us something else? No? You can't? Because you're just a crazy conspiracy theorist who's still upset that President Obama got reelected?

    November 28, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  11. Troy

    John McCain is bitter and Graham and the rest of the clowns are following his lead. What questions do they need answered..why was the embassy not secure...well ask Paul Ryan and Bohmer they cut $300M out of the security budget that Sec. Clinton asked for and warned them that this is putting embassy security in jepordy. Its amazing how they want Susan Rice to disregard the talking points given to her by the Intelligence Community. I guess McCain is use to rouge behavoir but I think it would have been crazy for Ms. Rice to go on Sunday shows and discuss classified information. I wish someone in the media would ask the Republicans is this what they are saying she should have done.

    November 28, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  12. TY

    John

    This could have all been avoided had Obama not made the decision to lie to America....
    The fact is, this is an impeachable offense, I hope they pursue it...
    Obama is not trustworthy....
    Get over it JOHN......you lost. No More Lies

    November 28, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  13. Natalie

    Wow...is this suppose to be so transparent? We all know that the GOP wants Kerry's seat...pure and simple.

    November 28, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  14. Natalie

    So when Bush and Condi Rice relied on the screwed up intel (WMD's) that got us in to the Iraq war, that's a pass? For all you Fox trolls screaming for impeachment over this, get real.

    November 28, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    oops, edit...left out a "not" hehe

    This is getting really lame and desperate. It's not working and the closed door meetings are NOT giving the GOPers/Teatrolls much confidence that they're going to be able to hang this on Obama or even use it to try to impeach him. So they've now turned to the game of scalp-hunting: they are clearly just looking to give themselves a thin and tenuous claim to some sort of victory in this trumped-up Benghazi controversy by handing their base Rice's scalp. They'll then screech like meth-addled chimps that their self-righteous "take down" of Rice is proof that Obama and his administration are all at fault for the deaths, etc. So, now they've turned to "send out the alleged moderate-ish one to offer to the pseudo-compromise of agreeing to appoint Kerry so we can argue that refusal to give us Rice's scalp is unreasonable."

    November 28, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  16. Catherine

    Funny, they didn't have a problem when Powell was fed bad intelligence and he told both Congress AND the United Nations. Why could that be? Oh, yeah, Kerry is a Senator from MA and Republicans want the seat. The Republican party has become the party of sleaze. I'm ashamed that I ever voted Republican.

    November 28, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. Let's Move Forward

    @John- dream on, what are you smoking or sniffing.

    November 28, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Fred

    This is a simple case of the President or his administration lying to the American public because of the effect that telling the truth might have had on the election. They should have just said that it was a terrorist attack period. Nothing confidential. The argument that they did not want to tip off the attackers is foolish because they never tried to disguise their attack!

    November 28, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. DC Insider

    I for once agree with Dominican mama 4 Obama,Susan Rice needs to "shut up." We need someone for Secretary of State who is able to be measured in their responses to the public. Hillary Clinton was awesome as Secretary of State, and I think she'll do a great job as President in 2016. Personally, I know a lot of people really wished they voted for her in the primaries in 2008.

    November 28, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. ll

    All a political smoke screen. Republicans....under whom 3000+ Americans lost their lives in 9/11, under whom 4000+ Americans lost their lives in the bogus war on Iraq (when THEY passed on flawed/bogus intel themselves), and under whom about 50 American embassy workers lost their lives during the last administration....don't really give a rip about the 4 who died in Libya. This is all self-serving political grandstanding on the tax payers dime.

    And one more point: McCain, Graham, AND Ayotte were long-term supporters of Grover Norquist and signers of his pledge. They easily sold out to the highest bidder ahead of the American electorate.

    November 28, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "Ummm, if you left the meeting with questions... WHY DIDN'T YOU ASK THEM???? "

    They knew what the answers would be, didn't like them and didn't want them on the record. They were avoiding giving Rice the opportunity to say "I told them in the meeting that X, Y, Z and now they're pretending I never said it."

    November 28, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. @GuileOfTheGods

    Lynda/Minnesota
    "I would need to have additional information before I could support her nomination," Collins said, adding she thought another potential nominee – Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts – would be "easily confirmed by his colleagues"

    So there you go folks. This "controversy" has nothing to do about Benghazi and everything to do with politics. Senator John Kerry to be exact. And the loss of his Democratic Senate seat should he be "easily confirmed" by his Republican colleagues.

    The only lying going on now is the lying being done by GOPers to make Susan Rice a scapegoat for getting that Massachusetts Senate seat back into Scott Brown territory.

    You hit the nail on the head!

    November 28, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  23. Bill

    The Republican Senators really want Scott Brown to be a Senator again, which will only happen if Kerry is selected as Secretary of State, not Rice. However, that is only a short term benefit for the Republican party and this political charade may have drastic long-term consequences.

    Imagine a world where politicians actually err on the side of releasing sensitive information as quickly as possible just to protect their own political hides. In this incident, we learned the facts within a few days. More importantly, no other Americans were injured because sensitive information was carelessly released too early. The safety of Americans overseas is now and must always remain our number one priority in these circumstances, not how quickly information can be released to the news media and what talking points are deemed "classified" or "unclassified" immediately following an attack.

    November 28, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  24. Johnny True

    This is all politics, John McCain is not qualified to smell Susan Rice's farts , let alone
    pursue a strategy to block the appointment of Rice to Secretary of State. There's only
    one way to stop these anarchists from impeding Congressional and Executive Branch
    progress and that's to remove Republicans from the House and Senate in the upcoming
    elections, apparently they did not learn their lesson.

    November 28, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. simp

    I know you people did not expect her to say anything other than what that angry mccain, graham and that dumb allotte said. by calling collins a centerist are we suppose to believe her? Hell no they want kerry nominated for sec of state so they can try and run scott brown again. these repubs think they are so smart, nobody is fallijn for it and collins can shut up too.

    November 28, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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