In his first press conference since the election, President Barack Obama challenged Republicans who are calling for Watergate-style hearings on the terrorist attack in Benghazi to “go after me.”
Obama defended U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, whose remarks on Sunday morning news shows five days after the Sept. 11 attack have been widely criticized by Republicans.
“She made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her,” he said. “If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them.”
“But for them to go after the U.N. 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.”
Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham both criticized the administration’s response to the attack, and called for a substantial congressional investigation in a Wednesday press conference. (RELATED: Obama dodges question on his role in Benghazi response)
“I think if there was ever a time in recent history for the Congress to follow models that we’ve used in the past, it is Benghazi. Watergate investigation benefited from a joint select committee. Iran-Contra benefited from a select committee. I think finding the truth about Benghazi is only possible if you combine the resources of these three committees and do it in a professional manner,” Graham said at the Capitol on Wednesday.
“If we go down this segmented, stovepipe road, we’re going to fail the American people and not have really any hope of getting the truth out.”
At the same press conference, McCain said “we will do whatever’s necessary to block the nomination that’s within our power,” should Obama select Susan Rice as his next secretary of state.
McCain’s statement was in response to a question as to whether he would filibuster Rice’s confirmation to the post.