Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says a “scheduling error” is to blame after he missed a Senate hearing on the attacks in Benghazi on Tuesday and instead held a press conference where he called for an investigation into those same attacks.
CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash reported on Thursday that Ted Barrett, the network’s Senate producer, had an “intense very angry exchange” with McCain when he asked about why the senator had missed the hearing.
“I have to tell you something that just happened on Capitol Hill, and that is our senate producer Ted Barrett just ran into John McCain and asked about something that we’re hearing from Democrats, which is John McCain is calling for more information to Congress, but he had a press conference yesterday instead of going to a closed briefing where administration officials were giving more information,” Bash told CNN anchor Carol Costello. “Well, Ted Barrett asked John McCain about that, and it was apparently an intense very angry exchange and McCain simply would not comment on it at all.”
McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers later told Slate’s Dave Weigel that “Senator McCain was absent from the hearing due to a scheduling error.”
In addition to his press conference, the Arizona senator has appeared on Fox News, CBS and NBC in the last 24 hours to call for a Watergate-style committee to investigate the attacks in Benghazi. He has also pledged to block U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice from becoming the next secretary of state because he said that her early assessment of the attacks made her “not qualified” for the job.
During a press conference on Wednesday, President Barack Obama lashed out at McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for for their “outrageous” attacks on Rice.
“If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me,” the president remarked. “And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”
Obama added that he would not argue that Congress had a duty to get to the bottom of the attacks, “but when they go after the U.N. ambassador apparently because they think she’s an easy target then they’ve got a problem with me.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Newsroom via Think Progress, broadcast Nov. 15, 2012.