Editor's note: Anderson Cooper interviews Sen. John McCain about why he is calling for an investigation into the deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Watch AC360° at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
At a White House news conference today, President Obama had a message for Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain: Don't go after Ambassador Susan Rice. The president was responding to their criticism of Rice's characterization of the September 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The senators also vowed to try to block her nomination as Secretary of State, if she is chosen by Obama.
"She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace. As I've said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her," said Obama. "If Senator McCain, Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous."
Rice called the terrorist attack a "spontaneous" demonstration during her appearances on the Sunday morning talk shows five days after it happened. McCain has said on AC360° that the Obama administration is guilty of either being naive or willfully deceiving Americans for initially linking the assault to an anti-Muslim video on the Internet.
After Obama spoke, McCain addressed his colleagues and the president from the Senate Floor. "The President of the United States did not tell the American people the truth about the attacks that took four brave Americans' lives that went on for eight, seven hours, for which we were totally unprepared. Mr. President, four brave Americans died. It has now been eight weeks. The American people have received nothing but contradictory statements from all levels of our government," he said.
Some argue McCain shouldn't be condemning Ambassador Susan Rice since he supported Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State after she made false statements about weapons of mass destruction when making the case for invading Iraq when she was National Security Adviser. McCain and other Republicans defended her integrity and said anyone who opposed her was playing politics. Tonight Anderson Cooper asks the senator if there's a double standard.
"I think these are two entirely different cases, but if somebody wants to make that case, and tell the American people that it was okay to go out and tell them that this was a spontaneous demonstration sparked by a hateful video that [she's] qualified to be our Secretary of State, then they're entitled to that view...I will not agree to her appointment as Secretary of State," he said.
Watch the preview and see more of the interview about the drama that unfolded today in Washington, and how McCain plans to pursue an investigation. Tune in at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
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