John McCain lashes out at reporter on Benghazi briefing question

Ron Recinto
November 16, 2012

A testy John McCain lashed out at a CNN reporter who asked the Republican senator why he missed a classified committee briefing on the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

"I have no comment about my schedule and I'm not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media," McCain told CNN's Ted Barrett. When pressed on the matter, McCain responded, "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?"

The Arizona senator was not at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee briefing because he and Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., held a detailed press conference on Benghazi, The Washington Post reports. The trio urged that a single committee be formed to centralize and coordinate the investigation into the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya. Currently the investigation is within the jurisdiction of several Senate committees.

McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, also said the streamlined committee could resolve the "many unanswered questions" about the tragedy.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers told CNN a "scheduling error" was to blame for the senator missing the meeting.

On Wednesday, McCain lashed out at a reporter who asked if the scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus was a greater threat to national security than the September attack in Benghazi, The Hill reported.

"Well, I say with great respect, that's one of the dumbest questions I've ever heard," McCain said. When the reporter tried to ask a follow-up question, the senator retorted, "I'm answering your question. Do you want me to answer your question or do you want to interrupt? Which do you want?"