Defense & National Security

100 members of Congress ask Obama to steer clear of Rice

100 members of Congress ask Obama to steer clear of Rice

Amid allegations that U.N. ambassador Susan Rice was dishonest with the American people in television appearances following the deadly Benghazi attacks, 100 legislators have signed on to a letter to the president asking him to bypass Rice for nomination to Secretary of State.

Led by Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a cross-section of Republican members of Congress tell President Barack Obama they are “troubled” by his intention to nominate Rice amid such scandal.

“We believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks  following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador (Chris) Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world,” they wrote.

The administration avers Rice accurately represented unclassified talking points that pointed to a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video sparking the violence. It was later revealed the attacks were actually a planned act of terrorism, and Republicans in Congress allege Rice knew that when she delivered her misleading public account.

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Lawmakers are now moving to investigate where the suspect talking points originated, and while Congressional Democrats say Rice is not to blame, the letter-writers said she should not be absolved for her involvement in the debacle.

Over a dozen letters from Republican Senators to administration officials about the scandal have gone unanswered, and a number of missives from Congress have already been ignored, the letter-writers told Obama.

“Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter,” they wrote. “…Thus, we believe that making her the face of U.S. foreign policy in your second term would greatly undermine your desire to improve U.S. relations with the world and continue to build trust with the American people.”

In the House and Senate, inquiries are ongoing about the origin of the talking points and the state of security leading up to the attacks, as well as apparent discrepancies in the public timeline of events in Benghazi published by the CIA and Defense Department.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she will testify in upcoming hearings, but it’s not yet clear if Rice will agree to appear before Congress.

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