Republicans are ramping up opposition to a potential nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, citing Rice's role in what lawmakers are calling an intentional misleading of the American public after the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Ninety-seven House Republicans on Monday sent a letter to President Obama opposing Rice's nomination, citing her initial statements after the Benghazi, Libya, attack which she described as a spontaneous riot spurred by an anti-Muslim film.
"We believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world," read the letter, topped by the signatures of Reps. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C. and Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
The letter comes a day after Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she plans to find out who gave Rice her talking points. Feinstein and other senators learned last week during closed-door meetings with intelligence officials, including former CIA director David Petraeus, that the initial intelligence showed the attack was premeditated and brought on by the al Qaeda terrorist group.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., suggested the reason was political.
"There were some policy decisions made based on the narrative that was not consistent with the intelligence that we had," Rogers said.
With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to step down after one term, President Obama will likely soon announce his choice to replace her and Rice is high on the list, as is Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, D-Mass.
Cabinet nominees must win approval of the majority of the senate, but can be blocked by an opponent through the use of the filibuster unless there are 60 votes in the nominee's favor.
Several prominent Republican senators, including John McCain, of Arizona, have pledged to block Rice's nomination should Obama put her name forward.
The letter House members sent to Obama Monday refers to Rice's appearance on five Sunday talk shows following the attack in which she said there was no evidence it "was premeditated or preplanned," but was instead "a spontaneous reaction" to the anti-Muslim video.
Senate Republicans have called for a Watergate-style committee to investigate the attack on Benghazi. But Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has rejected the proposal.
Danielle Pletka a foreign and defense policy scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said questions about Benghazi will continue to plague the Obama administration, especially if he nominates Rice to replace Clinton.
"One of the things the administration forgets is that Senate Republicans have an enormous amount of leverage," Pletka said. "They don't want to have an investigation committee, that's fine. All that means is information is going to continue to dribble out and they are going to continue picking at the sore."