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“To say somehow or other that she misled the American people using the very notes that were asked for by the House Republicans and to accuse her of anything other than doing her homework, I think, is very, very unfair,” said a visibly agitated Levin. The language used in those talking points was “not her decision; that was the intelligence community’s decision.”
Levin said he had discussed the matter with former CIA Director David H. Petraeus and confirmed that Petraeus had signed off on the language.
“Take it up with the people who wrote the assessment. That’s fair game,” the normally even-keeled Democrat said. “But, my God, to tear into her!”
In addition to their issues with Rice, Graham and Ayotte said they want more information from the administration on the Benghazi attack before they would be willing to consider her nomination, and they plan to hold up her nomination in the meantime.
“We’ve got to answer questions before we can make good judgments,” said Graham. “No. 1, where is the FBI interview of the survivors? Why don’t we have that? Where are the cables from Sept. 11 coming back from the headquarters about what’s going on here? I mean, this is basic stuff.”
Ayotte said Tuesday she also requested “to review all the State Department cables” with the embassy in Tripoli. “I’ve been denied that because I’ve been told I’m not on the Homeland Security or Foreign Relations Committee, which is the most absurd thing I’ve heard,” she said.
“There are still so many questions that need to be answered related to the attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, including, I think there will still be follow-ups to Ambassador Rice,” Ayotte said.
Carney flatly rejected that. “I would simply say that there are no unanswered questions about Ambassador Rice’s appearances on Sunday shows,” he told reporters Tuesday. “The talking points that she used for those appearances that were provided by the intelligence community, those questions have been answered.”
Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.