December 11th, 2012
03:03 PM ET
10 years ago

Lieberman continues to defend Rice amid GOP criticism

(CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut parted with two of his close friends in the Senate - Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham - on the question of Susan Rice's role after the Libya consulate attack and whether it could affect a potential cabinet nomination.

"I've been over all of the intelligence that we had before she went on TV that Sunday morning, I went over all of her comments. I don't think she's disqualified based on anything she said that morning," the senator said, reiterating his defense of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

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Lieberman made his comments Tuesday while sitting alongside his two friends in an interview to air on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight." Collectively, the senators are frequently dubbed the "three amigos."

Rice is considered to be on the president's short list to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state during his second term. However, McCain and Graham have led the Republican charge against Rice over her comments in the aftermath of the Benghazi, Libya consulate violence, which resulted in the death of four Americans.

On morning news shows the Sunday after the September 11, 2012 attack, Rice attributed the violence to protests over an anti-Islam film made in the U.S. Later she said she was speaking from unclassified talking points from the intelligence community.

The intelligence community, however, has since said the violence came from a planned terrorist attack, not a spontaneous protest.

While Lieberman has previously called for Congress to have "mercy" on Rice, he said Tuesday that he and his friends "can disagree and still be amigos." But the retiring senator, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he'll be following the hearings from a distance.

"The rest is up to the future and unfortunately I'll be watching it on TV," he said. Lieberman will be replaced by Senator-elect Chris Murphy, a Democrat.

During the same interview, McCain said Rice "deserved the process that every nominee goes through" but added her initial comments were "wrong."

Watch the full interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight," starting at 9 p.m. ET

Rice appeared on the Hill last month to answer questions from senators about her remarks. While President Barack Obama has publicly defended her, McCain said he still has doubts about her qualification.

"We're willing to give her the nomination process, but she's got a lot to prove," the Arizona senator said.

McCain also confirmed Tuesday he was seeking a spot on the powerful Senate Foreign Relations committee, which has oversight of the State Department. It would further give McCain a prime position to grill Rice during any nomination hearings.

Asked Tuesday if he wanted the spot, McCain, said: "Oh I think it would be fun to do."

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

Filed under: Joe Lieberman • John McCain • Lindsey Graham • TV-Piers Morgan
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    Oh, poor Joe Lieberman.
    McCain has a new BFF.
    That has to sting, eh?

    December 11, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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