McCain, Graham defend Obama State. Dept. nominee linked to Benghazi

McCain, Graham defend Obama State. Dept. nominee linked to Benghazi

Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSchiff shows clip of McCain in Trump impeachment trial Martha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Schiff closes Democrats' impeachment arguments with emotional appeal to remove Trump Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE (R-S.C.) on Friday offered a preemptive defense of President Obama's nominee to head European affairs at the State Department amid concerns about her role in the Benghazi talking points.

Obama nominated former State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland for the post on Thursday, just as news broke that House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) had asked that she be deposed by his committee. In a joint statement praising Nuland, the two longtime critics of the administration's handling of Benghazi highlighted Nuland's experience serving as principal deputy foreign policy adviser to then-Vice President Cheney and U.S. ambassador to NATO under President George W. Bush.

“Ambassador Victoria Nuland has a long and distinguished record of service to our nation in both Republican and Democrat Administrations,” they wrote. “She is knowledgeable and well-versed on the major foreign policy issues as well as respected by foreign policy experts in both parties. We look forward to her upcoming confirmation hearings in the United States Senate.”

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The statement comes as Nuland's role in crafting the talking points that cost U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice a shot at becoming secretary of State has only recently come to light. Other vocal critics of the administration's response to last year's terrorist attack – notably Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLindsey Graham will oppose subpoena of Hunter Biden Marsha Blackburn shares what book she's reading during Trump Senate trial Sekulow indicates Trump should not attend impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.) and James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeBroad, bipartisan rebuke for proposal to pull troops from Africa Lawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Senators take oath for impeachment trial MORE (R-Okla.) – may yet decide to block her long-expected nomination.

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…"

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