WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice has withdrawn her name from consideration to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, CBS News reports.
President Obama said in a statement he spoke to Rice about her decision.
“Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant,” Obama said, according to CNN.
Obama said that he is “grateful” she will continue to serve as ambassador to the U.N. and as a key member of his cabinet and national security team.
“While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first,” Obama said, according to CNN.
Republican senators were critical of Rice over her statements about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and suggested her motive was to help Obama’s re-election chances.
At issue was the explanation Rice offered in a series of talk show appearances five days after the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Rice conceded in private meetings with lawmakers that her initial account — that a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S. triggered the attack — was wrong, but she insisted she was not trying to mislead the American people. That account was provided by intelligence officials who have since said their understanding of the attack evolved as more information came to light.
Two of Rice’s fiercest critics, Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Rice’s account went beyond talking points that the intelligence agencies gave her. For one, they noted she had said that security at the Benghazi mission was “strong, substantial and significant.”
That statement “was not supported by the talking points,” Ayotte previously said, noting that Rice was privy to more than just the unclassified material she discussed on television, including secret intelligence briefings that pointed to al-Qaida involvement in the attack.
“I think her story on 16th of September was a political story designed to help the president three weeks before the election, and she should be held accountable for that,” Graham said. He added that Rice’s comments were “a treasure trove of misleading statements that have the effect of helping the president.”
Democrats, though, said Rice was being unfairly victimized for repeating erroneous talking points circulated by the intelligence community.
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