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White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughFormer Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report Trailer shows first look at Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE said Tuesday it was his fault the White House didn’t send the president or another senior member of the administration to a unity rally in Paris earlier this month following the terror attack on a satirical newspaper.


“We’ve said we regret we didn’t send someone more senior than our ambassador,” McDonough said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show. “That rests on me; that’s my job.”

McDonough said he regretted the decision in particular because “the melee that ensued after that has covered up and obfuscated the very good progress that our intelligence agencies” and law enforcement made cooperating with the French and other allies.

“Unfortunately, the decisions I made obfuscated that effort,” McDonough said.

The comments represented the first time a White House official personally took responsibility for the decision not to dispatch the president or vice president to the rally.

Press secretary Josh Earnest said last week it was a mistake and that it was a missed opportunity to send a symbolic message that “the American people stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies in France.” But he and other White House officials repeatedly declined to say who had made the decision, other than to stress that the decision had not made its way to the president’s desk.

Republicans seized on the absence to criticize the White House.

"The absence is symbolic of the lack of American leadership on the world stage, and it is dangerous," Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz scolds reporter who brought up his daughters Can Democrats flip the Texas House? Today's result will provide a clue Republicans show little enthusiasm for impeachment witness swap MORE (R-Texas) said in an op-ed in Time magazine.

But French officials largely shrugged off Obama’s decision not to appear and praised the U.S. for its assistance in the aftermath of the attack.

“We have been overwhelmed by the expression of solid solidarity and grief and all corners of the American people, from the highest level of the administration since President Obama came to the French Embassy and Secretary Kerry, to the ordinary Americans,” French Ambassador Gérard Araud told MSNBC.