GOP senators vow to work with Rice

Two key Republican senators on Wednesday muted their criticism of Susan Rice, saying they would welcome the opportunity to work with her when she assumes the post of President Obama’s national security adviser.

“Obviously I disagree w/ POTUS appointment of Susan Rice as Nat'l Security Adviser, but I'll make every effort to work w/ her on imp't issues,” tweeted Sen. John McCainJohn McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate MORE (R-Ariz.), one of Rice's toughest critics.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerOPINION: Congress should censure Trump for his unfit conduct How to fix Fannie and Freddie to give Americans affordable housing No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight MORE (R-Tenn.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations panel met with Rice prior to her appointment and said he accepted the president's decision.

“I appreciate the work Tom Donilon has done as National Security Advisor,” Corker said Wednesday. “Now that the president has made a decision on his replacement, I had a very good conversation with Ambassador Susan Rice to let her know I look forward to working with her on shaping important foreign policy and national security issues as she serves in her new role.”

ADVERTISEMENT
President Obama on Wednesday will tap Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to replace National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, who will step down in July. Rice will not need Senate confirmation to take the job.

Rice was seen as Obama’s favorite to replace former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonAssange meets U.S. congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents High-ranking FBI official leaves Russia probe OPINION | Steve Bannon is Trump's indispensable man — don't sacrifice him to the critics MORE in January, but withdrew her name from consideration amid fierce GOP opposition over her statements initially blaming the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, on a peaceful protest gone awry.

McCain last year accused Rice of giving “false information concerning how this tragedy happened.”

Obama defended Rice, saying that she had made those statements based on the intelligence assessments at the time. Republicans have questioned whether there was an effort to downplay the terrorist attack in the run-up to the 2012 election.

Corker described Rice last year as “somebody who’s had every drop of Kool-Aid” and sounds “like she’d be a great head of the Democratic National Committee.”

Other Republican lawmakers were vocal in their criticism of her selection on Wednesday.

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulCurtis wins GOP primary for House seat vacated by Jason Chaffetz Glimmer of hope in bipartisan criminal justice reform effort Trump barrage stuns McConnell and his allies MORE (R-Ky.), who previously had been softer on Rice than many of his colleagues over Benghazi, said the choice reflects poorly on Obama.

“I still have a great deal of questions,” Paul told Fox News, “I really question the president's judgment in promoting someone who was complicit in misleading the American public.”

During the firestorm over Rice’s Benghazi talking points, Paul had said that the real focus of GOP scrutiny should be Clinton, who he said should have resigned over security lapses at the Libya mission.

But Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonTrump signs Veterans Affairs bill at New Jersey golf club No. 2 Senate Republican backs McConnell in Trump fight Savings through success in foreign assistance MORE (R-Ga.), who defended Rice last year when he served on the Senate Foreign Relations panel, called Rice a “competent individual.”

“A lot of people are raising concerns because of Benghazi, but I have said from the beginning that she was thrown under the bus and given the information that she repeated on the Sunday shows,” Isakson said on MSNBC.

Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill