Susan Rice withdraws from Secretary of State consideration
Susan Rice, the embattled U.S. Ambassador for the U.N., withdrew her name on Thursday from consideration to be Secretary of State.
“If nominated, I am now convinced that the confirmation process would be lengthy, disruptive and costly—to you and to our most pressing national and international priorities,” Rice wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama, NBC News first reported
President Barack Obama confirmed her withdrawal in a statement Thursday afternoon, saying, “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.”
Talk of Rice being nominated to succeed Hillary Clinton stirred significant controversy following Rice’s role in the handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya.
Republicans accuse Rice of misleading the public about intelligence which indicated the attack was premeditated. And the White House has been accused of ignoring requests for increased security at the embassy.
Rice’s withdrawal is a loss for the administration, which had staunchly defended Rice amid significant criticism, and will be viewed as a win for Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and other Republican senators who had vowed to block Rice’s confirmation.
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers emailed Yahoo News to express that the senator “thanks Ambassador Rice for her service to the country and wishes her well.”
“He will continue to seek all the facts about what happened before, during and after the attack on our consulate in Benghazi that killed four brave Americans,” Rogers wrote.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, another leading detractor of Rice, declared in a statement Thursday, “I respect Ambassador Rice’s decision” and said Obama “has many talented people to choose from” to succeed Clinton.
Graham accused the administration of “stonewalling” efforts to look into the Benghazi attack and vowed to keep “working diligently to get to the bottom of what happened.”
Speculation regarding who will be chosen as the next Secretary of State now shifts to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
Obama is expected to overhaul much of his foreign policy and national security teams for the coming term. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is departing, the position of Director of the CIA is open following the David Petraeus scandal. s second term. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is rumored to be looking to replace Attorney General Eric Holder.
Olivier Knox contributed to this report.