Hold On, Amb. Rice

Sen. Ayotte promises a hold will be placed on Susan Rice if Obama nominates her for secretary of state

Rice, Ayotte / AP
• November 27, 2012 1:28 pm


The Senate will likely place a hold on anyone President Barack Obama nominates to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.).

"There will be a hold" until the Obama administration fully answers lingering questions surrounding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Ayotte told a group of reporters Tuesday afternoon during a conference organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI).

"My view is we should hold on this until we get sufficient information from the administration because there are questions that need to be answered," she said.

A "hold" is a parliamentary rule that allows any senator to delay action in the Senate.

Ayotte met Tuesday morning with embattled U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who has faced scrutiny from Republicans on Capitol Hill after disseminating erroneous information regarding Benghazi in the days following the attack.

Rice is viewed as a likely nominee to replace Clinton when she steps down as secretary of state.

Ayotte and other Republican senators who met with Rice Tuesday were not impressed. They believe Rice failed to sufficiently address their concerns about her fitness for the post. She did not explain why she presented the American public with erroneous and conflicting talking points about the source of the Benghazi attack.

"Where I’m left with this is there are still many questions that have to be answered," Ayotte said Tuesday during the FPI event. "The meeting today left me with many more questions."

The administration initially maintained that the attacks were spontaneous and resulted from an anti-Islam film that had been posted on YouTube.

However, that information was quickly proven false. The administration and Rice stuck by those talking points for days before admitting that an affiliate of the terror group al Qaeda was behind the assault.

"Questions still remain about the talking points and who made those changes and why they were made and the reason behind it," Ayotte said. "Why were we [given] this impression in the first place when it’s clearly wrong?"

"The impression left [by Rice] for the American people, no question, is a misleading impression and that troubles me," Ayotte added. "Why was that done? What was the reasoning?"

Ayotte said that she has been denied a request to review all State Department cables pertaining to Benghazi, though she plans to fight that decision.

"I was told that because I’m not a member of Homeland Security [Committee] or the Foreign Relations Committee I cannot review the State Department cables," Ayotte said. "I find that completely unacceptable."

Ayotte remains concerned that months after the attack all of the "the facts have not all come out."