But after their private meeting with the U.N. Ambassador, McCain, Graham and Ayotte came out swinging, claiming that Rice should have either disregarded talking points the intelligence community gave her for her Sept. 16 Sunday show appearances, or not said anything at all about the attacks given that some of the information given her turned out to be inaccurate.
Reid, in a statement released yesterday evening, shot back:
“The personal attacks against Ambassador Rice by certain Republican senators have been outrageous and utterly unmoored from facts and reality. I am shocked that senators would continue these attacks even when the evidence – including disclosures from the intelligence community about the information she presented – have made it clear that the allegations against Ambassador Rice are baseless, and that she has done absolutely nothing wrong.
“Ambassador Rice’s service as United States Ambassador to the United Nations has been impeccable. She has answered all questions raised in relation to the Benghazi attacks completely and repeatedly. The Senate committees of jurisdiction are in the midst of examining the events leading up to the Benghazi attacks, and I agree with those – including the ranking Republican members of both the Intelligence and Homeland Security committees – who have said we should let the committees do their work. There should be no place for such blatant partisanship in oversight of our nation’s intelligence community.
“The election is over. It is time to drop these partisan political games, and focus our attention on the real challenges facing us as a nation.”
Reid warned McCain earlier this month to quit politicizing the Benghazi attacks after Arizona Republican called for a Watergate-style special committee to investigate the administration’s response. “There is no evidence that any crime was committed,” Reid said.
McCain, his Republican allies and Fox News have been pushing baseless conspiracy theories on the Benghazi attacks, primarily that Rice and other Obama administration officials were involved in a “cover up.” Senior intelligence official debunked McCain’s latest charge — that the White House had changed Rice’s Benghazi talking points for political purposes — and it seemed like he would back off. But now McCain is back at it and even some of his best friends in the Senate refuse to sign on.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) defended Rice from the GOP attacks yesterday as well. “[I]t is so unfair to hold her responsible for something that she didn’t produce and which the intelligence community has specifically stood by,” he said.