McCain, Graham laud nominee behind Benghazi talking-point edits

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham were vocal critics of the administration’s messaging after the Benghazi attacks, but on Friday, they issued a laudatory statement about Victoria Nuland — the woman behind a number of the changes to the talking points — and her nomination to be assistant secretary of state for Europe.

“Ambassador Victoria Nuland has a long and distinguished record of service to our nation in both Republican and Democrat administrations. She is knowledgeable and well-versed on the major foreign policy issues as well as respected by foreign policy experts in both parties. We look forward to her upcoming confirmation hearings in the United States Senate,” the two senators said in a joint statement.

According to emails released by the White House, Nuland, currently a State Department spokeswoman, had suggested a number of alterations to the talking points, in one case due to an expressed concern that a “point could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat the State Department for not paying attention to [Central Intelligence] Agency warnings.”

Those changes to the talking points, which resulted in initial statements blaming the attacks on protests over an anti-Islam video, have been used by Republicans to attack the White House and its handling of the affair. McCain and Graham were among the harshest critics of former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who first voiced those talking points on the Sunday shows after the attacks, when she was floated as a possible nominee to be secretary of state.

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