Collins leaves Rice meeting with questions; says Kerry would be confirmed easily
November 28th, 2012
12:05 PM ET
8 years 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. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    John McCain wants revenge and Collins wants Kerry's Senate seat and the people in "H" want ice water.

    November 28, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Bill

    The GOP is so blatently transparent in its motives. Guess whay guys – you are not getting the MA. Senate seat.

    November 28, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. yasmine

    nice try GOP to get Scott Brown back to being a senator..

    November 28, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Wake up People!

    Oh God. Will this EVER end??? Now when will Bush, Cheney, Rummy and Condi be questioned about 9/11/01, wmd's and everything else they did. This ish is becoming RIDICULOUS! There is plenty of information that should NEVER be released to the public and our enemies. Who really cares what the attack was called??? Get to work, or you people are fired! Yes, I said you people. And no I'm not belittling anyone's death, I just want to know where all of these rethuglicans were when Bush lied to us about wmd's. Funny, it's like they want to forget there ever was a Bush.

    November 28, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  5. B

    But of course Sen. Kerry would be confirmed easily, because this would allow the former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts to weasel his way back into the senate. Thus, giving the republicans another rubber-stamped vote against President Obama.

    November 28, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. sonny chapman

    Who's George W. Bush ?9-11-01, Afghanistan, Yellow Cake Uranium, Mushroom Cloud, IRAQ ? That's so yesterday. What we really need to refocus on is how did Hillary get away with shooting Vince Foster ?

    November 28, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Condi Rice testified before Congress under oath, and knowingly provided incorrect or misleading information. Republicans supported her for Sec'y of State with no qualms about it.

    Susan Rice appeared on talk shows and repeated the same message that had been released to members of Congress two days prior to her appearances. Her remarks even suggested that the investigation was ongoing and there may be more to it than what she was disclosing at the time. Republicans are going bug nuts over it.

    November 28, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Elizabeth

    Why didn't she ask Rice those questions in the meeting? Is it because she really didn't want them answerdd? Anyway, she doesn't get to choose who the President picss for SOS. If the President wants Kerry, he wil pick him. If he wants Rice, he will pick her. He doesn't need need any republican input. After all the President did win the election.

    November 28, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  9. Bruce

    How can the republicans dictate who gets appointed to what position. Last I look...Obama won the election. He should nominate Rice and recess appoint if the senate doesn't confirm her.

    November 28, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  10. Woman In California

    Susan Rice needs to quit embarassing herself and quit meeting with these jerks. Can't she see they are not interested in justice-only hurting the president? The situation has gone from bad to worse and she's not helping her image at all. I didn't think she was the best person for this position even before Benghazi and now I'm further convinced she would be better off doing something else. With her qualifications and experience she shouldn't have a problem moving on.

    November 28, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. ST

    They are all republicans. Whom do they think they are fooling? Why do they pick John Kerry and not anybody else. We are all aware of their game and President Obama is not going to fall in their trap.

    November 28, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Randy, San Francisco

    Now the truth comes out. It is all about politics and not the safety and welfare of our diplomats overseas. Shame, shame on the flag waving false patriots in the GOP/Tea Party.

    November 28, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. Norm

    These losers are quite a trip aren't they.
    This very arrogance is what lost them the election.
    Go sit down.....

    November 28, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    ..........this nation now does not need bickering as to who should be secretary of state–it does not matter–this nation needs FILIBUSTER REFORM, TERM-LIMITS ON BOTH SENATE AND CONGRESS, ANTI LOBBY AND VOTER REFORM–FLORIDA CHEATING TOOK PLACE THIS LONG-SHAME ON IT.

    November 28, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. 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....

    November 28, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  16. rs

    Anyone who believes there are real problems with Rice as a candidate for the SoS are fooling themselves. This is plain old obstructionism- a proxy war for losing the election. Just GOP standard operating procedure.

    November 28, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. 2012liberal

    Rice will b SOS and Kerry will SOD. Again embassies r protected by US Marines, consolates r guarded by host nation. More protection was asked 4 the embassy. Ask rethugs why they cut funding 4 embassies? Raise taxes on rich since they like having wars. Time they pay 4 them. Libya is n the middle of a civil war btw. And there r NO direct feeds from ANY embassy or consolate. Ya, right, like every one of those around the world hv direct video line 2 wh. Get a brain and start using some logic!

    November 28, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  18. rs

    Talk to me about it after McCain concludes a witch hunt into Weapons of Mass Destruction, or the 12 embassy attacks that occured on Bush's watch.

    November 28, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. just sayin

    lying and incompetence should never be rewarded with a promotion. only obama and the democrats think this way.

    November 28, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  20. jk in MN

    The GOP only wants Kerry in that position to free up a Senate seat they hope to fill with Scott Brown winning an election for the vacant seat. I hate politics! Nothing can can solely on a person qualifications in Washington!

    November 28, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Mete Krop

    Stop talking. Clinton will be staying on her position and so do Susan Rice. Kerry will also maintian his Senetorial position, Scott will still be out of game. The whole drama here is to get Kerry move to State Dept and get Scott elected on his position in Mass. Understand...

    November 28, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. Donkey Party

    John – PS, the real liars are Fox News and the GOP, but you're too brainwashed to understand that.

    November 28, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    McCain does not want revenge. He's lost all power in the Senate because term limit rules say that he can no longer be the ranking Republican on any committee because he's already served on all of them. McCain does not want to accept the fact that his service in the Congress has become irrelevant, which is why he ran for POTUS. He's been there so long that he's become obsolete, with no more power than a junior Senate serving a first term.

    The only committee that McCain could serve as lead Republican would have to be a new one, or a new special group formed to study or investigate something. A special Senate committee investigating Benghazai would suit his requirements, or lack thereof, just fine. Any questions?

    November 28, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. Michael B.

    Just get Jon Hunstman to be Secretary of State.

    November 28, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. Jill-IN

    These republicans are so obvious now! They want a Massachusetts senate seat. Such disgusting political behavior – just what we have been trying to tell them we are all sick of. Repuke!

    November 28, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
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