Sen. Lindsey Graham had better watch his back. The Republican may find more than his age spots exposed. Obama has Benghazi spinner and next Secretary of State Susan Rice’s back and will pull a Petraeus to neutralize anyone getting in his way.
Obama became visibly angry during his first news conference in eight months when the press probing turned to Rice.
The Hill: President Obama called Republican criticism of his ambassador to the UN “outrageous” during his press conference Wednesday and vowed to nominate Susan Rice despite their objections if he determines she’s the best choice for the job.
“When they go after the UN ambassador . . . because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me,” Obama said. “And should I choose, if I think that she would be the best person to serve America, then I will nominate her.”
Obama singled out Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who are among several Senate Republicans who have said her statement linking the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi should disqualify her for the post. U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in the attack.
“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,” Obama said. “If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’d be happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the UN ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi — and was simply making a presentation based on information that she had received — . . . is outrageous.”
Rice has emerged as the president’s first pick to replace Hillary Clinton, ahead of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.). Obama said he was still mulling his options but said she had done “exemplary” work at the United Nations.
Graham immediately responded after the press conference.
“Mr. President, don’t think for one minute I don’t hold you ultimately responsible for Benghazi,” Graham said in a press statement. “I think you failed as Commander in Chief before, during, and after the attack.
“We owe it to the American people and the victims of this attack to have full, fair hearings and accountability be assigned where appropriate. Given what I know now, I have no intention of promoting anyone who is up to their eyeballs in the Benghazi debacle.”
Graham, at a press conference before Obama’s Wednesday, dismissed Rice as “disconnected from reality”:
“Somebody has got to start paying a price around this place. I don’t think she deserves to be promoted. There are a lot of qualified people in this country the president could pick, but I am dead-set on making sure we don’t promote anybody that was an essential player in the Benghazi debacle.”
Shortly following the attacks in Benghazi, Rice appeared on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” and suggested there was no evidence that the incident was an act of terrorism. Instead, she said, the violence appeared to be prompted by an inflammatory anti-Muslim video that had led to protests in Egypt. Since then, Rice’s characterization has been proven inaccurate, although her statements were supported by talking points the CIA reportedly gave her at the time.
Regardless, Republicans have lambasted Rice for propagating the idea that the violence was inspired by the video, and accused her of knowingly misleading the American people about a terrorist attack.
“This is about the role she played around four dead Americans, when it seems to be that the story coming out of the administration — and she’s the point person — is so disconnected to reality I don’t trust her,” said Graham. “And the reason I don’t trust her is because I think she knew better, and if she didn’t know better she shouldn’t be the voice of America.” CBS News.
“Somebody has got to start paying a price around this place.” That could be you, Senator Graham.
Related: Obama steamed over Rice Politico.