President Obama on Thursday nominated former State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland to be the department's top diplomat for Europe and Eurasia.
The nomination, which was widely expected, will likely spark a confirmation battle with Senate Republicans over Nuland's role in redacting the talking points that the administration used to describe the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack.
News of her nomination came just as The Weekly Standard reported that House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has asked that she submit to being deposed by his committee, along with 12 other current and former top State Department officials.
According to internal documents released by the White House last week, Nuland raised concerns about blaming the attack on al Qaeda linked militants, saying she had “serious concerns” about lawmakers “making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not making because we don’t want to prejudice the investigation.”
She also urged the talking points drafters to remove references to warnings of past attacks on the mission, saying those references could be used by lawmakers to attack the State Department.
“The penultimate point,” she wrote, “could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either? Concerned…”
Republicans say the talking points blaming the attack on a peaceful protest gone awry were crafted for political gain just weeks before the November election. The White House says they were the product of changing and incomplete intelligence assessments in a time of crisis.
The talking points have already cost Obama one State Department pick: His rumored top pick to be secretary of State, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, could not assuage Republicans after she delivered the talking points on Sunday news shows five days after the attack.
The politics of Benghazi aside, Nuland appears eminently qualified for the job of assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. She speaks fluent Russian and French and previously served as principal deputy foreign policy adviser to Vice President Cheney and was later U.S. ambassador to NATO under President George W. Bush.
Obama also nominated Douglas Lute to be ambassador to NATO, James Entwistle to be ambassador to Nigeria and Daniel Sepulveda to be deputy assistant secretary of State for international communications and information policy.
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