Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has blistered U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for her incompetence and lies to the American people about Benghazi. But he has refrained from criticizing Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State whose negligence allowed terrorists to attack the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and kill four Americans, because he is close friends with her.
When asked by reporters why he hasn’t criticized Clinton, McCain did not even mention Clinton’s name, instead saying he believed “the State Department has responsibility” and that he has been “very critical of the State Department and their actions.”
As Politico notes, McCain also defended Clinton when Republicans — led by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — brought up concerns that Clinton’s longtime aide Huma Abedin had family members who were prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Muslim Sisterhood.
Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said the Clinton camp was “so very moved when Sen. McCain took to the Senate floor that day [to defend Clinton and Abedin]. It was nothing short of remarkable.”
“But after being around him all those years in the Senate and since, and seeing firsthand his fondness and respect for Huma, it was not surprising at all,” Reines said.
McCain said he and Clinton “seemed to hit it off with each other and enjoy each other’s company,” and McCain’s daughter Meghan admires Clinton.
“When we’re all together, we not only talk seriously — we laugh a lot,” McCain said.
According to Politico, McCain and Clinton bonded on a cruise ship in Norway where McCain said the two had “a shared experience being in a place where we sat outside and watched the sun go down and just touch the horizon and then go back up.” Clinton also allegedly challenged McCain to a vodka-drinking contest during a trip to Estonia – though that may be more legend than fact.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (R-S.C.) said McCain and Clinton are “two people I would invite to a party,” but that, as much as he liked Clinton, he fully intends to “challenge her to tell me why you did not reinforce the consulate, what did you do with the Aug. 16 cable that says there are 10 Al Qaeda militia roaming around and we can’t withstand a coordinated attack.”
“Stay tuned,” Graham said.
But even if Graham harshly questions Clinton, McCain probably will not, reflecting a Beltway establishment culture in which those in the permanent political class, of which McCain and Clinton are prominent members, protect their own above all else.