Three heavy-weight Republican senators were still troubled on Tuesday by the deadly September attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi even after their private meeting with America's UN envoy and potential candidate for the next secretary of state, Susan Rice.
The three key GOP senators, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte, held a private meeting for more than a hour with Rice and the acting CIA Director Michael Morell.
The meeting was designed to provide Rice, who is facing potential blockade on her nomination as the next U.S. top diplomat, with an opportunity to explain and allay concerns on the September 11 Benghazi attacks which killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
According to reports, during the meeting, Rice admitted that her comments made on national television talkshows five days after the attacks, which described them as a spontaneous protest-turned violent act, were wrong.
However, the three senators told the press after the meeting that their concerns have not been addressed, with some of them even feeling "more disturbed."
"We are significantly troubled by many of the answers that we got and some that we didn't get concerning evidence that was leading up to the attack on the consulate and the tragic death of four brave Americans and whether Ambassador Rice was prepared, or informed sufficiently, to give the American people the correct depiction of the events that took place," McCain told reporters.
"All I can tell you, that the concerns I have are greater today than they were before. We're not even close to getting the basic answers," said Graham. "Bottom line I'm more disturbed now than I was before that 16 September explanation,"
Rice, the current U.S. envoy to UN, is considered by many the front-runner to become Hillary Clinton's successor. Despite harsh criticism by the Republicans, U.S. President Barack Obama said he will firmly support Rice if he decides to tap her the job of secretary of state.
"If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama said in a powerful defense for Rice in his first White House press conference after elections on Nov. 14. "And I'm happy to have that discussion with them."
"But for them to go after the UN ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous," he declared.
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