U.S. President Barack Obama has challenged lawmakers openly critical of his ambassador to the United Nations and likely next secretary of state, Susan Rice, to “go after me” instead.
Rice has been the target of criticism from lawmakers, particularly Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, over her initial remarks about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Rice and several administration officials have responded to these criticisms, explaining that statements were based on intelligence available at the time.
Obama took the same line in defending Rice at a news conference Wednesday (Nov. 14).
“She made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me,” Obama told a reporter who asked for comments about the senators’ threat to block Rice’s confirmation if indeed nominated to replace Hillary Clinton.
The president added: “I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”
At the same conference, Obama stressed that nominations for positions in his cabinet for the next four years are still in “discussions.” Washington insiders have suggested that Rice will get the secretary of state nomination, considering her ties with Obama. Further, the other possible contender for the nomination — Sen. John Kerry — is now being linked to the Defense secretary position.
Read more on U.S. aid reform online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.