Susan Rice won’t have to wait until her Senate confirmation hearing to hash things out with John McCain. CBS News reports that on Tuesday the U.N. ambassador will meet with McCain and fellow critics Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte on Capitol Hill to discuss their claim that she made misleading comments about the attack in Benghazi during several Sunday shows.
Rice may have kicked off the detente when she publicly defended her remarks last week, saying she “relied solely and squarely” on facts provided to her by the intelligence community, and made it clear that the information was “preliminary.” (David Petraeus testified that references to terrorism weren’t removed for political purposes, but to keep terrorists from learning that the U.S. was on their tail.)
This week on Fox News Sunday, McCain said he’d be willing to discuss the matter with Rice, and didn’t mention blocking her nomination — though he hasn’t backed down entirely. “If someone wants to come and see me, it would be improper for me to say, ‘No, I won’t meet with you,’” McCain told the Daily Beast on Monday. “I will meet with you and hear your version of events why you went out and told the American people false information.’”
The meeting was requested by Rice’s office, and Politico reports that she also reached out to Bob Corker, who’s set to become the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, before Thanksgiving. Their meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet.
Ayotte said on Monday that she’ll still oppose Rice succeeding Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, unless she’s satisfied with her explanation. “Top question: I want to know what she relied upon on each Sunday show and I want to understand fully what homework she did in advance and who briefed her,” said Ayotte. To help answer those questions, acting CIA Director Mike Morell will join Rice for Tuesday’s meeting.
As for Graham and McCain, both signaled that they’re willing to take up the president’s offer to attack him rather than Rice. After saying Rice is “so disconnected to reality I don’t trust her,” on Sunday Graham said he puts the blame for the misleading Benghazi remark on “the president above all others.” McCain told the Daily Beast that he still considers what Rice said a “problem,” but “the biggest problem is the president of the United States. As late as September 25th [Obama] was talking to the United Nations about hateful videos.” Somehow we don’t see Obama and McCain burying the hatchet anytime soon.
Update: It didn’t go very well. “The bottom line is that I’m more disturbed than I was before … about how four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya by Amb. Rice does not to do justice to the reality at the time,” Graham said after the group’s meeting with Rice.