Biden praises Susan Rice, says she speaks ‘for the president’

Vice President Biden on Tuesday praised U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, saying that there should be no doubt she speaks for the president.

“When she speaks … no one wonders whether or not she is speaking for the president,” Biden said at a dinner for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, where Rice was honored, according to reports.

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Biden called Rice one of the “brightest, most accomplished” people he's known.

Biden’s comments come as GOP lawmakers launch a new round of congressional hearings on the administration’s response to the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September, a controversy that ensnared Rice and likely damaged her chances of being nominated for secretary of State.

In the aftermath of the incident, Rice had said the assault on the compound, which killed four Americans, was the result of spontaneous anger over an anti-Islam film, with the White House later conceding it was a preplanned terrorist attack.

While Rice insisted that she had relied on then-current intelligence estimates, GOP lawmakers had questioned whether the administration sought to bury the terrorist nature of the attack months before the presidential election.

The scrutiny from Republicans over Rice’s role led her to withdraw her name from consideration to replace then outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after efforts to privately assuage GOP lawmakers fell short.

On Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee will revisit Benghazi, with State Department employees testifying that special forces members were ready to be deployed but told to stand down during the attack. That testimony would contradict prior statements from the administration that all defense and intelligence assets in the region were deployed.

State Department whistle-blowers are also expected to testify that Clinton was involved in the decision to paint the incident as not a terrorist attack.