November 15th, 2012
03:32 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain skips Benghazi briefing, gets testy when questioned by CNN

(CNN) - Most of the Republican members of a Senate committee investigating the terrorist attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, skipped a classified briefing by administration officials on the incident Wednesday, CNN has learned.

The missing lawmakers included Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who at the time of the top-secret briefing held a press conference in the Capitol to call for the creation of a Watergate-type special Congressional committee to investigate how and why the attack took place.

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McCain, who has accused President Barack Obama of not telling the truth about the Benghazi attack, said that even though there are several committees involved in the probe, only a select committee could streamline the information flow and resolve the "many unanswered questions" about the tragedy.

When CNN approached McCain in a Capitol hallway Thursday morning, the senator refused to comment about why he missed the briefing, which was conducted by top diplomatic, military and counter-terrorism officials. Instead, McCain got testy when pressed to say why he wasn't there.

"I have no comment about my schedule and I'm not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media," McCain said.

Asked why he wouldn't comment, McCain grew agitated: "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”

When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, "I'm upset that you keep badgering me."

While McCain refused to shed light on why he didn't show, his spokesman Brian Rogers emailed CNN a short time later with an explanation. He blamed it on a "scheduling error" but wouldn't provide any more detail.

According to a Democratic aide on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, only three of the eight GOP members of the committee attended the two hour briefing that ran from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. By contrast, seven of the nine Democratic members were there.

McCain's press conference took place at noon.

McCain did spend several hours in a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing on Benghazi Thursday, and plans to attend the panel's closed-door session on Friday with former CIA Director David Petraeus.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (584 Responses)
  1. Argyle

    Amazing how he can be so vocally critical yet choses to miss a key briefing on the same topic. It's almost... like... the GOP... does not want the truth, they would rather sit around and stir up conspiracy theories..

    November 15, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. Allen

    Our Ambassador to Libya and 3 other Americans were murdered on 911 2012 in Bengazi. There are material inconsistencies between the CIA and Pentagon's narrative of events surrounding thei incident. The White House has yet to provide its own version of events beyond its original narrative that what occurred was the result of video deemed offensive to those who attacked the American Embassy.

    General Carter Ham commander of AFRICOM and Admiral Charles Gaouette (Carrier Strike Group-3) were both relieved of duty following the 911 incident; they were relieved according to the White House for displaying "poor judgement". General of US Forces Afganistan John Allen is under investigation for allegedly "exchanging inappropriate emails" with Jill Kelly a friend of former CIA Director David Patreus. Conventional wisdom is General Kelly will lose his command. David Patreus resigned suddenly over an alleged affair with Paula Broadwell his biographer. A bit of an abrupt shake up at the top but what do I know.

    John McCain would like to know if perhaps somewhere in all of this the security of The United States was comprimised. I imagine Senator McCain having been tortured for almost a decade while being held as a POW in Vietnam, is probably sensitive to issues of National Security.

    Frankly, I don't believe the American people need to be made aware of all of the gory details surrounding the incident, but I do believe an independent "Select Committee" should be appointed to ensure The Administration has matters under control. Just in case.

    November 15, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  3. Perryboy

    McCain is just another old ANGRY WHITE MALE in Washington DC that really need to get out of dodge.....IT' OVER!!!

    November 15, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  4. Vijay

    I think, this is the right time to start congressional hearings about Iraq war and call Bush/Cheney/Condi rice/Graham/John McCain for the hearing, like what they are doing to the current administration. They all should be prosecuted in International Court of Law.

    November 15, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. Becker

    And you wonder why CNN and rest of the elite media's market share continues to decline.

    November 15, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. Damien

    McCain said he had a scheduling error. Where was he then?

    November 15, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  7. Grady

    point fingers, make accusations, demand the truth, get all fuss and feathers, "I'm going to get to the bottom of this if I have to go all the way to the top"!
    miss the meeting...

    November 15, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. vlad from massachussetts

    I would take the hero, a Vietnam veteran, a multiple terms senator,against this good looking nothing any time
    Don;t you dare to say that McCain is killing the country, when he almost get killed for her!

    November 15, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. john

    McCain needs to know that his side lost. They tried desperately, and unsuccessfully, to make Libya an issue in the election. I think we should look into how this country was led to war in Iraq based on false "intelligence."

    November 15, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. Georges

    Grumpy old man. Lost the election. Embarassed and fustrated.

    November 15, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  11. exrepublican

    Not surprising. He's all noise at this point in his failed career. Just an angry old white guy chasing (big) birds off his lawn.

    November 15, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. JacinJax

    The sad part is he didn't used to be a grumpy old man. He used to be a respected Statesman. He is destroying his legacy. What a shame that he may be remembered as a sham.

    November 15, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. Name Gary L

    Grumpy old man, sorry you are not relevant.

    November 15, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  14. mike

    I'm happy to see CNN asking a tough question and pushing for an appropriate response. Now, continue to hound Senator McCain on this until you get an answer...from HIM. Please don't accept a press release from his office. I want to see him, on camera, acknowledging that he failed to attend a meeting designed to educate him on a subject that he claims he can't get the Obama administration to discuss!

    November 15, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  15. Centrist Voter.

    I gave McCain serious consideration in 2008 UNTIL he picked Palin.

    It's been all downhill ever since for him.

    November 15, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. Bob Philpot

    Skipping an intelligence briefing?!? Imagine that!! It's not like the POTUS ever missed more than half of his intel briefs.

    November 15, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  17. themench

    Ah yes, the GOP. As ever, don't bother them with the facts.

    November 15, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. Carlos

    I love how this becomes important however when the Preisdent missed several intelligence briefings right after the incident. Why is it ok for the President to miss several and not ok for a senator to miss one.

    November 15, 2012 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Patrick in Wisconsin

    Not a day goes by when I lose every last sliver of respect I had for Mr. McCain. Yes, he served honorably in the Vietnam War, but he doesn't demonstrate a shred of integrity or decency today. The Maverick is dead, and in its place a angry old partisan.

    November 15, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  20. Jeff Nove

    Imagine that Republicans not showing up to an intelligence meeting regarding the very thing they want more facts about. Thanks again for wasting our tax dollars again. This must be their new mandate. Waste our time endlessly with BS issues.....that only the right and only the extreme right care about.

    November 15, 2012 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. Guest

    Where's the commission looking into war crimes for the prior administration going into Iraq?

    November 15, 2012 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  22. buzz1975

    McCain and the other Repubs didn't go to the briefing because they don't want answers..and they don't really give a damn about the four Americans who were killed....instead .they want to play politics. This is really disgusting. There are so many problems our congress needs to deal with, but the are too busy playing games.and acting like fools trying to win over the public opinion to their side. Something tells me they have been in bed with the Foxbots too long...conspiracy theories rein....while common sense goes out the window. Get a grip, GOP.

    November 15, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    CNN as usual is making a big deal about nothing...Obama never has to answer questions. All of you are ignorant fools,Obama lied and the people of the US want answers! McCain is an American hero Obama is a joke....

    November 15, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  24. matt

    Obama was barely at 10% of these type of briefings his first term. Where was CNN then. You are not a reputable news service . You are a Democratic banner! Just like the press In for Chevez! I suspect this won't make it to be posted. You usually keep these type of criticism off. Freedom of the press is only free for CNN and Obama!

    November 15, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  25. Republican Class Warfare

    Yeah, everybody's been bringing up a good point lately...when do the WAR CRIMES trials start for the Bush Administration over the Iraq War, the biggest lie and biggest genocide ever perpetrated by a white American since Andrew Jackson?

    November 15, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
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