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. Thomas Houlahan

    This is who John McCain is and always was. He is not a policy guy. He is a walking publicity stunt.

    Remember during the financial collapse, when he suspended his presidential campaign to go to Washington, supposedly to help solve the problem? At the high-level meeting that ensued, he had nothing to say.

    Whenever any kind of serious problem comes up, McCain will never have anything meaningful to contribute, he'll just milk it for all the publicity he can get for himself. That the press continues to accord him serious coverage astounds me.

    November 15, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. pc

    mccain is an embarrassment to the gop, senate and america.

    November 15, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Frankie

    He needs to get over the personal stuff, it is quite obvious he hates the President and is a bitter ole man and will do anything to get him back. Cmon McCain, get over your loss to Obama and do the country's work. I don't know why it is not obvious to you that you do not diguise your feelings very well at all. Buck up ole man.

    November 15, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    That's OK. They all know what they want to hear anyway.

    November 15, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Jason

    That is the problem here, they want to politicise this issue and don't want to hear any explanation as to what took place that might interfere with there position that this was some failure or cover up on the Presidents part. If this is such a big issue to you, then why would you skip a classified briefing with people that were actually involved? The Stevens family has requested to stop politisicing his death. Let's get answers, but let's not turn this into some type of political attack.

    November 15, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. joe

    just another show of politics by the repo clowns. Instead of handeling the fisical cliff this trukey would rather be all upset and badgering susan rice who was not in charge of security and only relayed what the intellegance told her. They really don't care about rice only looking for a photo opp and a chance to condem the president and be obstructionious again. Most of us are on to them and don;t really care about their ridiculious agenda . Getting really tired of the old repo clowns. They need to all retire.

    November 15, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. Vivian

    Republicans have got to stop actin like babies!

    November 15, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. j range

    What a self indulgent, obnoxious hypocrite! And kudos to the reporter who insisted on getting an answer. McCain and Romney have now proven beyond a doubt that they are totally irrelevant to the future of our modern Republican Party, and this country. McCain should follow Romney and fade into the sunset where losers belong.

    November 15, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. sayer

    Typical childish behavior. They want to know what happened and when they are being told, they don't want to hear it. This is your GOP congress MIA.

    November 15, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Brad

    McCain has no credibility... I think Dan Rather said it best: "This is the man that Picked Sarah Palin as his running mate, she would have been one heart beat from the Presidency if he was elected" makes you wonder if this guy shouldnt retire.

    November 15, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. icanproofit

    That's OK. They all know what they want to hear anyway.

    November 15, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. Rob1961

    As we know only too well, when you're a Republican leader now, it is much easier to criticize and find blame when you don't have to worry about facts getting in the way. The information was provided, but Mr. McCain has already spoken from a lack of knowledge so there was nothing to "learn" when you've got the air time you wanted.

    November 15, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. Tracey T

    This is proof that McCain and his republican cronies do not want the truth; They want to grandstand! They did not learn ANYTHING from the recent elections. They are pathetic.

    November 15, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    "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."

    Kudos to CNN for not allowing McCain to use it as a soap box in his relentless attacks on President Obama. Guess mugging for the camera was more important than attending the meeting that actually had the facts and not McCain Watergate-like talking point innuendo.

    November 15, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. JC

    Yeah right. Not important enough to attend a briefing but important enough to have news conference at the same time. Mr McCain your agenda is showing.

    November 15, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. plumbed

    McCain's is an old fool

    November 15, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. Jimmy O'B

    Bottom line.....who told Rice to go on those Sunday Morning News shows.....and who told her to say it was a protest about that stupid video that went wrong? Get the answers to those questions, and you'll have the truth about this whole cover-up. Imagine if Bush had been the President, the lame stream media would have been relentless. Katrina was all Bush's fault....Sandy was the big Power Company's fault.....Liberal Cowards.

    November 15, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. JC

    Can we get a committee to find out if he "really" had a scheduling error. Thinking along the lines, as he is, that truth matters. So why weren't you there. Are you playing politics?

    November 15, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. Namechuck albertus

    Mc cain is turning into an idiot

    November 15, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Independent

    McCain, the disdain is insane.

    November 15, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Adventure49

    This is a witch hunt at the cost to America's foreign policies. McCain suggested a Watergate like panel. I would suggest that we have a Watergate like panel to investigate the unAmerican motives of the GOP.

    November 15, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. SamR

    Its clear that Sen. McCain believed he was owed the Presidency by what he went through in Vietnam, and when that did not happen, he became the sorest loser in American political history.

    Hopefully he'll get beyond the 2008 loss at some point. Right now he's just humiliating himself and confirming everything that even GOP Senators said about his judgment and temper making him a poor choice for President.

    It is clear he has no interest in Benghazi except to use it to criticize Obama. That's sad, since the GOP was warned that their cutting of funding for diplomatic security would lead to incidents like this, as Rep. Chaffetz acknowledged.

    November 15, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. Darrin

    McCain called the President incompetent, for wanting to appoint Susan Rice to Seceretary of State, but he felt no shame in picking Sarah Palin in 08 to run for Vice President? this Old dude is Looney Tunes.

    November 15, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Chris in NY

    Grumpy old man. After giving us Sara Palin this guy has the guts to challenge President Obama on Ambassador Rice. Talk of sour grapes.

    November 15, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  25. Neda von Radoic

    Did anyone of you liberals ever get the idea that Mr. McCain does not want to waste time listening to lies?
    A special committee will investigate and get to the truth of Benghazi...
    In the meantime all Democrats can sit at their briefings and sleep.
    As far as news media, they are so far left, nobody trusts them any more.
    So no wonder Mr. McCain does not want to be bothered with phony briefings or pestering leftist madia.

    November 15, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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