GOP senators slam Rice after Benghazi meeting

November 27, 2012 8:04 pm  

(Fox News) – Three Republican senators who met Tuesday with U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice say they left the meeting with more unanswered questions about her comments after the deadly September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“I am more disturbed now than before,” said South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The Capitol Hill meeting lasted about 90 minutes and also was attended by acting CIA Director Michael Morell.

Graham was joined by Sens. Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, and John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I’m significantly troubled by the answers we got and didn’t get,” McCain said.

Rice continues to be discussed as one of the top candidates to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she steps down next year.

However, the senators said after the meeting they needed more information about the attacks and the aftermath before making a decision on how they might vote on a potential Rice nomination.

Clinton has said she will step down as soon as her replacement is ready. Rice and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., have been the top names discussed for the job.

McCain has demanded Rice be held accountable for her public explanation of events following the fatal Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. He wouldn’t say Monday whether she could allay his concerns.

“I’m not going to go into the whole tick tock, but it’s clear what my concerns are,” he told Fox News. “She told the American people things that were patently untrue … As I said at the time people don’t go to demonstrations with mortars and rocket propelled grenades.”

Rice, while making the rounds on five Sunday show appearances Sept. 16, five days after the attacks, said they were “spontaneous” violence that seemed to grow out of a protest of an anti-Islamic video. But further scrutiny revealed no evidence of a protest outside the consulate on the night of the attacks, and U.S. intelligence officials later said it appeared to be a pre-planned terrorist attack.

U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed. A local Libyan extremist group that sympathizes with Al Qaeda is suspected of carrying out the attack, though it remains unclear how much planning was involved and how much the anti-Islam video served as a motivating factor.

Rice has said only that she was working off talking points given to her.

She said on Wednesday that she had “great respect” for McCain and his service to the country and that she looks forward to discussing with him the entire issue, including some “unfounded” statements he made about her.

McCain, who vowed to block any attempt to appoint Rice as the next secretary of state, hinted Sunday that he might be moving away from his hard-line approach.

“She deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain herself,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” “She’s not the problem. The problem is the president.”

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