(WASHINGTON) — United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice’s attempts to make nice with a trio of Republican senators who have criticized her response to the Sept. 11 terror attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, may have backfired. The senators said they left their face-to-face meeting with Rice Tuesday morning “more concerned” and “significantly troubled.”
The three Republicans, Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said that not only did Rice not answer all their questions about the attack but did little to assuage their overall worries.
Their dissatisfaction following the meeting with Rice, who was joined by Acting CIA Director Mike Morell, was unanimous.
“We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn’t get concerning evidence that was overwhelming leading up to the attack on the consulate,” McCain said.
“The concerns I have are greater today than before, and we’re not even close to getting the basic answers,” Graham said.
“I am more troubled today, having met with the acting director of the CIA and Ambassador Rice,” Ayotte said.
Tuesday’s meeting was seen as part of Rice’s Capitol Hill “charm offensive,” as her potential nomination to be the next secretary of state has met with some vocal opposition — especially from McCain, Graham and Ayotte.
While the senators left the meeting dissatisfied, they seemed to steer clear of questions as to whether they would stand in the way if Rice was nominated.
What they find problematic is Rice’s statement on the Sunday morning news shows immediately after the attack. At first, she said it was a “spontaneous” attack and not a terrorist attack.
In a statement following the meeting, Rice said, “We explained that the talking points provided by the intelligence community, and the initial assessment upon which they were based, were incorrect in a key respect: There was no protest or demonstration in Benghazi. While, we certainly wish that we had had perfect information just days after the terrorist attack, as is often the case, the intelligence assessment has evolved. We stressed that neither I nor anyone else in the administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in this process, and the administration updated Congress and the American people as our assessments evolved.”
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