Friday, December 15, 2017

Rice concedes error on Benghazi attack; Republicans dig in

WASHINGTON — Susan E. Rice may have hoped that paying a conciliatory call on three hostile Senate Republicans on Tuesday would smooth over a festering dispute about the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, and clear a roadblock to her nomination as secretary of state.

But the senators seemed anything but mollified, signaling instead that they would still oppose Rice, the ambassador to the United Nations, if she is nominated by President Barack Obama, even after she conceded errors in the account of the assault she gave on Sunday morning television programs shortly after it occurred in September.

Two of the Republicans, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, said they would seek to block Rice, who according to administration officials remains Obama's preferred choice to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The third Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said on Fox that he would be "very hard-pressed" to support Rice.

"Bottom line, I'm more disturbed than I was before," Graham said after the tense, closed-door meeting.

The continued criticism of Rice, 48, a diplomat with close ties to Obama, deepens an already-bitter and unusually personal feud between the White House and Republicans over Libya. Responding to a question about criticism of Rice at a news conference two weeks ago, Obama said: "If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me."

It also raises the prospect of a confirmation battle if the president goes ahead with nominating Rice. To some extent, that battle is already under way, even before he has submitted her name. Rice's visits to senators, which will continue today, bear all the hallmarks of a presidential nominee seeking to win over reluctant legislators.

A senior administration official said the harsh reaction to her appearance Tuesday would have no effect on Rice's chances for secretary of state.

"They've been saying the same thing for months," he said.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is the other leading candidate for the post. Several senators, including McCain, said they would prefer Kerry and predicted he would sail through a confirmation hearing.

In a statement after the meeting, Rice said she incorrectly described the attack in Benghazi — which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans — as a spontaneous protest gone awry rather than a premeditated terrorist attack. But she said she based her remarks on the intelligence then available — intelligence that changed over time.

"Neither I nor anyone else in the administration intended to mislead the American people at any stage in the process," said Rice, who was accompanied in the meeting by the acting CIA director, Michael J. Morrell.

Rice had requested the meeting amid signs that McCain and Graham were softening their criticism. "She deserves the ability and the opportunity to explain herself," McCain said Sunday.

Assuming the White House had the support of every Senate Democrat, it would have to win over only five Republicans to gain a filibuster-proof majority.

Comments
Ryan Callahan injury makes Lightning win ‘bittersweet’

Ryan Callahan injury makes Lightning win ‘bittersweet’

The Lightning's 4-1 victory over the Coyotes Thursday night still featured the usual post-game music in the dressing room.But there was more of a somber tone with veteran right wing Ryan Callahan's right arm in a sling. Callahan, who got hurt on a na...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Britain's finance minister in China to promote trade

Britain's finance minister in China to promote trade

Britain's finance minister tells China's premier there are "many opportunities" to expand commercial ties as he starts a visit aimed at developing trade as the United Kingdom prepares to leave the European Union
Updated: 8 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Focus on free speech in colleges; Rays trades may still be coming; Katy Perry tonight in Tampa; remembering ‘The Fight Doctor’

The Daystarter: Focus on free speech in colleges; Rays trades may still be coming; Katy Perry tonight in Tampa; remembering ‘The Fight Doctor’

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• A stray shower is possible today as another cold front moves through, according to 10Weather WTSP. Luckily, the front only depresses temperatures into the lower 70s. The week...
Updated: 9 minutes ago

German sex shop company filing for protection from creditors

Sex shop chain Beate Uhse AG says its holding company is filing for bankruptcy restructuring after failing to raise financing from investors and restructure its debts
Updated: 11 minutes ago

UK defense chief says Russia poses risk to undersea cables

The head of Britain's military says Russia could try to sever undersea communications cables, and protecting them is a defense priority for NATO
Updated: 13 minutes ago

Russia to resume flights to Egypt, halted after 2015 bombing

Russia's transportation minister says Moscow will resume flights to Cairo, suspended after 2015 IS bombing
Updated: 16 minutes ago

Luxembourg appeals $295 million EU Amazon ruling

Luxembourg is appealing a European Union decision that it has to claw back some 250 million euros in back taxes from Amazon
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Airbus CEO Enders to step down in 2019 as management shifts

Airbus CEO Enders to step down in 2019 as management shifts

European airplane maker Airbus says chief executive Tom Enders will step down in April 2019
Updated: 18 minutes ago

World Cup downhill training canceled after overnight snow

A women's World Cup downhill training run has been canceled after heavy overnight snowfall
Updated: 19 minutes ago

Workplace romance under spotlight after sex scandals

The minefield that co-workers and companies navigate when it comes to love at work has gotten even more complex following the recent flood of sexual misconduct allegations roiling Hollywood, politics and the media
Updated: 21 minutes ago