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. Bayousara

    If the Obama administration has been "lying" about Benghazi as Republicans charge, WHY is no reporter asking those Republicans what the lies are about??????????????? So easy to spout stuff without justifying it. That makes the challengers liars, too.

    November 15, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  2. John

    What they want to do is make Obama look bad, don't care about the country. They want to take people’s minds off the fiscal cliff – then when noting gets done and everyone's taxes increase they will blame Obama. As far as McCain goes he needs to sit down and shut up. He can't even remember to go to a committee meeting about the thing he is whining about. Maybe senility is creeping up on him. Wonder why he never sought to find out about 9/11?

    November 15, 2012 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. Reality

    It is time for John to retire, he has served admirably but he is now a loose and increasingly irrelevant cannon. The real reason he bailed on that session is that once he has been "read in" on classified material he has to keep his mouth shut or face serious charges. For the GOPers that went, they assuredly know a bit more of the truth.

    Select Committes are for far more significant matters of State.

    November 15, 2012 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  4. Pamela

    Thank you CNN for asking the right questions. We need to pursue truth from our Representatives and not just their talking points. McCain has sadly overstayed his usefulness.

    November 15, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. Lizzy10

    What the GOP doesn't want are facts that gets in the way of their efforts to impeach the President, so they will be skipping a lot of briefings that don't support their theory.

    November 15, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. sosimplyput

    The only one that skipped the Benghazi affair was CNN. The republicans already knew what happened. Now that you have successfully re-elected an incompetent to the highest office in the land, can't wait to see your Middle East coverage. Does it make you feel safer?

    November 15, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  7. Belinda Jordan

    If the Republicans really wanted answers...they would have been there but seems like all they want to do is create as much drama as possible. It's bad enough without them trying to make it worse. McCain needs to retire.

    November 15, 2012 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  8. FlotsamJetsam

    McCain has been among those Republican legislators trying to make a major issue out of the Libyan tragedy. The Republican base has been looking for red meat trying to tie in the Petraeus affair into the Libyan tragedy even accusing Obama of somehow directly being involved. (check out dailycaller if you don't believe me)

    I don't believe in any type of conspiracy for this but somehow to me this would still pale compared to the travesty of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that the Bush administration foist on us.

    November 15, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  9. MTATL67

    It is very clear by his response that his age has finally caught up with him. I pray to God his family, friends and colleagues speak with him. Thank you for your service Mr. McCain but it is time to retire.

    November 15, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
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