Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) managed this morning to both defend President Obama’s right to nominate Cabinet members and categorically ban the President from putting forward U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to become Secretary of State.
In discussions on Fox News this morning, McCain refused to say whether he would join the movement to block confirming Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) should he be nominated Secretary of Defense upon the departure of current Secretary Leon Panetta. When doing so, McCain insisted to the Fox and Friends hosts that he believed that the Senate has “to give the President some ability to name his team.” In contrast, McCain didn’t equivocate in his opposition to Rice:
MCCAIN: Susan Rice should have known better, and if she didn’t know better, she’s not qualified. She should have known better. I will do everything in my power to block her from becoming Secretary of State. She has proven that she either doesn’t understand or she is unwilling to accept evidence on its face. [...] She went out and told the American people something that was patently false and defied common sense.
Watch McCain’s full interview here:
McCain was referring to Rice’s appearance on several Sunday news shows on Sept. 16 to explain the Obama administration’s thinking at that time on what caused the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya. Rice has since come under attack from the right for her statements on those shows, particularly that the attack was spurred by an anti-Islamic video. It has since been revealed that Rice was speaking from a set of talking points provided by the U.S. intelligence community, which was also provided to Congress. The video has also been cited by those on the ground as being an impetus for the attack in recent weeks, challenging the Republican narrative.
Rice is currently thought to be the leading candidate to replace Hillary Clinton when she departs from Foggy Bottom in the near future, despite the challenges that await her in facing Republicans in the Senate. Individual Senators have the ability to issue holds or blocks on specific nominations or legislation, granting each of the one hundred the ability to prevent Rice from coming to a vote.
During his television appearances this morning, McCain also floated the idea of forming a new Select Committee to investigate the events in Benghazi and the administration response. While the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is holding closed door hearings on Benghazi this week, along with their counterparts in the House, McCain believes that a Watergate-style committee is necessary to find the truth about what happened, as jurisdiction over the investigation spans four committees. “Nobody died during Watergate,” McCain insisted. “Nobody died in Iran-Contra.”