4:20 p.m. | Updated President Obama came to the defense of Susan E. Rice, his embattled ambassador to the United Nations, on Wednesday even as she came under fire from another Republican senator and saw her prospects for becoming secretary of state further clouded.
“Susan Rice is extraordinary,” the president said when a reporter asked about her reception in Congress. “Couldn’t be prouder of the job that she’s done.”
Mr. Obama made his comment as he convened his cabinet for the first time since his re-election. Ms. Rice was among those in the room. After the president defended her, the departing secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, led the other cabinet officers in a round of applause for her.
Ms. Rice arrived at the White House after another meeting went awry on Capitol Hill, where she has been trying to defuse Republican criticism of her televised assessments of the deadly attack on a diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. After an hour-long meeting, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, said she remained deeply troubled that Ms. Rice did not seem to have a good answer for why the White House did not immediately classify the attack as an act of terrorism.
“I continue to be troubled by the fact that the United Nations ambassador decided to play what was essentially a political role at the height of a contentious presidential election campaign,” Ms. Collins told a throng of reporters after the meeting concluded.