Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will meet with senators Tuesday to discuss her remarks about the Benghazi attack that have caused troubles for her potential promotion to secretary of state, Senate and administration aides said Monday evening.
The move, announced a day after her top critic, Sen. John McCain R-Ariz., said he would be open to speaking to her, seems a sign that she is in line to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the second Obama term.
Republicans have attacked Rice for appearing on TV talks shows shortly after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi and saying that preliminary information suggested the assault was the result of protests over an anti-Muslim film rather than a premeditated attack.
McCain said Sunday he would be happy to meet with her about the issue.
A Senate aide told Reuters that Rice would meet with McCain as well as Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., who have also criticized Rice.
“She asked to see me, and I agreed to see her,” said McCain, Bloomberg reported. Asked what he would ask Rice, he said, “The same questions I’ve been talking about on every talk show in America.”
McCain and Ayotte also told Fox News that Rice had requested the meeting. Ayotte said she isn't sure if the discussion will stick to Libya, but she thinks this could help her reassess her reservations.
An Obama administration official told Reuters that Rice and Michael Morell, the acting CIA director, would meet with officials on Capitol Hill but declined to give details about timing.
"She and Mike Morell are meeting with folks on the Hill about Libya this week," the official said.
Rice said last week that her comments about the attack were based squarely on information provided to her by the intelligence agencies at the time. The presence of Morell in the meetings is likely meant to back up that assertion.
President Barack Obama's nominee for the position must be confirmed by the Senate to take the job. Democrats have a majority in the Senate, but Republicans could block his choice.
The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans were killed in the attack.
Rice will meet Sen. Susan Collins of Maine later in the week. A Senate aide said the meeting was arranged at Rice's request. Collins is the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is one of several committees probing the events in Benghazi.
Rice will also meet Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, an independent who chairs the committee, according to a Senate aide.