Sen. John McCain was so busy bashing President Barack Obama and his administration’s handling of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi that he missed a classified briefing on the matter.
The Obama administration made available all relevant documents and cables relating to the incident that left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. McCain, an Arizona Republican, missed the opportunity to review the thousands of pages of classified emails, telegrams, and intelligence reports that the State Department made available to the committee because he was leading a Wednesday press conference at that time condemning the administration’s lack of transparency regarding the attacks.
McCain’s office later called the snafu a “scheduling error.”
McCain had appeared before reporters along with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday to demand before reporters a select committee of Congress to investigate the violence in Libya, rather than attend the scheduled 11 a.m. closed-door briefing for members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
At his press conference, McCain continued to blast the president and his administration – including U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice – for botched handling of information in the aftermath of the attack.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the ranking Republican on the committee, on Thursday walked back comments she made the day before that were critical of McCain for missing the meeting, but maintained it’s important he’s fully briefed on intelligence. Both she and committee chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman disagreed with his call for a select committee.
“All I was trying to point out is that he’s a very valuable member of our committee,” Collins told CBS News. “He would be involved in all the briefings and the hearings and the investigation, and thus I don’t think that it’s necessary to create a whole new separate committee.”
When asked Thursday about the briefing, McCain reportedly became angry and told a CNN producer, “I have no comment about my schedule, and I’m not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media.” Pressed on why he wouldn’t comment, McCain said, “I have the right as a senator to have no comment. And who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”
Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., another member of the Homeland Security committee, also missed the briefing, but did an interview on CNN the same day attacking the president for his handling of the Benghazi attack, and, at one point, admitting, “I don’t know enough of the details.”