On the heels of an NBC exclusive, President Obama quickly released a statement confirming UN Ambassador Susan Rice was no longer in the running for secretary of State. This just out from the White House:
“Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State.
For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people.
I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend.
While I deeply regret the unfair and misleading attacks on Susan Rice in recent weeks, her decision demonstrates the strength of her character, and an admirable commitment to rise above the politics of the moment to put our national interests first. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.”
Secretary of State John Kerry reporting for duty? The Foreign Relations Committee chairman is coveting the position Hillary Clinton is expected to leave soon.
A potential Rice nomination received heated pushback on the Hill after the presidential election, but furor has somewhat subsided in recent weeks as lawmakers have focused on the looming fiscal cliff.
By withdrawing her name, Rice spares Obama the embarrassment of acknowledging that lawmakers who threatened to keep the nomination from moving through — such as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) — won the fight.
“I respect Ambassador Rice’s decision. President Obama has many talented people to choose from to serve as our next Secretary of State,” Graham said in a statement. “When it comes to Benghazi I am determined to find out what happened – before, during, and after the attack. Unfortunately, the White House and other agencies are stonewalling when it comes to providing the relevant information. I find this unacceptable.”
“The story of Benghazi is a story of national security failure and we must work to prevent it from ever happening again,” he added. “I will continue working diligently to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi.”
If Obama chooses Rice as his National Security Adviser in his second term, that post would not require Senate confirmation.
UPDATE: Kerry just weighed in with his own statement.
“I’ve known and worked closely with Susan Rice not just at the UN, but in my own campaign for President. I’ve defended her publicly and wouldn’t hesitate to do so again because I know her character and I know her commitment. She’s an extraordinarily capable and dedicated public servant,” Kerry said. “Today’s announcement doesn’t change any of that. We should all be grateful that she will continue to serve and contribute at the highest level.”
“As someone who has weathered my share of political attacks and understands on a personal level just how difficult politics can be, I’ve felt for her throughout these last difficult weeks, but I also know that she will continue to serve with great passion and distinction.”