Susan Rice says she will not be the next secretary of state, citing partisan politics in saying she would refuse the nomination if selected by President Obama.
Rice, the Ambassador to the U.N. who became the target of Republican anger over mishandling of the fallout of the attacks on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, wrote a letter to Obama, preemptively refusing the nomination, NBC News reported.
“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," she wrote in the letter, obtained by NBC. “That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country...Therefore, I respectfully request that you no longer consider my candidacy at this time.”
The White House released a statement Thursday afternoon on Rice's decision.
Today, I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State. For two decades, Susan has proven to be an extraordinarily capable, patriotic, and passionate public servant. As my Ambassador to the United Nations, she plays an indispensable role in advancing America’s interests. Already, she has secured international support for sanctions against Iran and North Korea, worked to protect the people of Libya, helped achieve an independent South Sudan, stood up for Israel’s security and legitimacy, and served as an advocate for UN reform and the human rights of all people. I am grateful that Susan will continue to serve as our Ambassador at the United Nations and a key member of my cabinet and national security team, carrying her work forward on all of these and other issues. I have every confidence that Susan has limitless capability to serve our country now and in the years to come, and know that I will continue to rely on her as an advisor and friend. 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. The American people can be proud to have a public servant of her caliber and character representing our country.
Rice became the target of Congressional Republicans following the Benghazi attack on September 11, accused of deliberately misleading the public on the nature of the attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Rice, backed by the administration, maintains that her statements at a round of appearances on Sunday morning talk shows were in line with the approved talking points from intelligence officials and were truthful to her knowledge at the time.
Attacks against Rice turned towards her personal qualifications, singling her out for fault in the confusion over what led to the consulate attack.
Rice met with Republicans, including Sens. John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, and Lindsey Graham, who had been among the most vocal in attacking her, in November, hoping to answer questions and smooth tensions, but nothing she or the administration said seemed to satisfy them.
Her decision to withdraw from the process means that Obama's path towards building his new national security team--both State and Defense Cabinet positions are expected to open, as well as the CIA director position. Senator John Kerry is considered a strong contender for either State or Defense.
Here's Rice on "This Week" following the Benghazi attacks.
Here's President Obama defending her.