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 Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Overnight Defense: US to send 1K more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions | Iran threatens to break limit on uranium production in 10 days | US accuses Iran of 'nuclear blackmail' | Details on key defense bill amendments Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission MORE (R-Ariz.), one of Rice's toughest critics.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPress: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Press: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment 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.”

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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 Diane Rodham ClintonBroadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Broadway play 'Hillary and Clinton' closing early due to low ticket sales Facing challenge from Warren, Sanders touts strength against Trump 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 PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales Senate rejects effort to block Trump's Qatar, Bahrain arms sales 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 IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonSenators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission Senators revive effort to create McCain human rights commission Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump 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.

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