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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 5th, 2013
05:45 PM ET

GOP chairman: Rice lacks judgment to be NSA

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is replacing Tom Donilon as President Barack Obama's national security adviser, a move that many Republicans are opposed to - not that they have any say, as Rice will not have to go through a U.S. Senate confirmation for the position.

Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, signed a letter to the president in November, accusing Rice of willfully or incompetently misleading the American public on the Benghazi attack.

Rice represented the administration on all the Sunday shows five days after the Benghazi attack, saying they were not premeditated, and were a reaction to an offensive video. It was later revealed that it was in fact a terrorist attack, though Rice did not play a lead role in crafting the inaccurate talking points she shared on the shows.

Back in November, McCaul opposed the idea of Rice as Secretary of State, and he is similarly displeased with Obama's announcement Wednesday.

"What I question is her judgment, and her ability to lead as a top national security adviser to the President of the United States, when she got this one so wrong," said McCaul, referring to the Benghazi attack.

"She may not have developed the talking points, but you have got to have enough good judgment and experience to question things," said McCaul. "I really question this pick. And I think a lot of members of Congress are going to do that."

The e-mail traffic on the Benghazi talking points was released by the White House last month, revealing a big division within the administration, and within the CIA, as to whether Benghazi was spontaneous or a terrorist attack.

Rice was being guided by the administration, with then-CIA director General David Patraeus and others weighing in. In hindsight, what could Rice have done differently?

"It was so self-evident what happened that day, I would have to question again her judgment," said McCaul.

The Texas Republican said he is concerned that the president is rewarding Rice, and putting in a team of loyalists.

The confirmation of Samantha Power, who Obama nominated Wednesday to fill Rice's previous post of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, may become a proxy battle about Susan Rice. Unlike Rice, Power will have to go through a U.S. Senate confirmation for her post.

"I think we will be talking about both of them, but I think Mrs. Power, the opposition will stand on its own in terms of her - you know, you want an U.N. ambassador that's going to advocate for the United States, not apologize for the United States," said McCaul.

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