John McCain is convinced that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is part of a massive cover-up over the Benghazi embassy attack and is launching a preemptive campaign to keep her from becoming Secretary of State. After saying last night that he would do "everything I can" to block Rice's nomination (which hasn't even happened yet), on Wednesday McCain repeated those comments on CBS This Morning, Fox News, and during an appearance at the Washington Ideas Forum (which is sponsored by The Atlantic.) McCain is telling anyone who will listen that Rice is not qualified to be the chief U.S. diplomat and that he believes she intentionally misled people about what the government knew about the attack.
McCain is even threatening to filibuster her nomination, should it happen, giving him an opportunity to derail President Obama's second term before it even starts. The threat may simply be a tactic designed to get a full special committee investigation on the Benghazi attack, but he does seem uniquely obsessed with the idea that the Obama administration is deliberately covering something up, and that this wasn't simply a failure of America's intelligence agencies to grasp situation (or communicate it to the people in charge.) He insists that Rice's statement that the attack was a "spontaneous demonstration" was not credible at the time she made it and that makes her either an idiot or a liar. As far as McCain is concerned, four people are dead and someone has to answer for that. The Senator's power to block Rice's promotion makes her a prime target.
At this point, even if Rice is "cleared" of wrongdoing, McCain's work may have already undermined any chance Rice would have to run the State Department. Speaking alongside McCain at the Washington Ideas Forum, Lindsey Graham was more willing to defer the President's choices, but still said "I don't trust her." She might still get approved, but the Obama administration could have an ugly and protracted fight, that could also deliver a big to her reputation. Some nominees are worth the fight, but the president will have to thing long and hard about determined he is to see Rice take the job.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.