Who is Victoria Nuland, State Department official?

Victoria Nuland, President Barack Obama's choice as chief American envoy for Europe, testifies Thursday at a Senate committee nomination hearing.

President Obama's choice as chief U.S. envoy for Europe, Victoria Nuland, faced grilling this week by senators over the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Victoria Nuland, a former State Department spokeswoman who is President Barack Obama's nominee to become an assistant secretary of state, is in the headlines this week as she prepares for her Senate confirmation vote.

Who is Victoria Nuland?

Nuland is a career diplomat who has served under both Republican and Democratic presidents in top State Department jobs. She was named spokesperson for the State Department in May 2011 and was the public face of the department in the days and weeks following the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, that left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

Obama nominated her in May to become assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Before serving under Obama at the State Department, she was a deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney during the George W. Bush administration.

Why is she in the news again?

Nuland's confirmation needs Senate approval, and she appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday ahead of a Senate vote. Republicans on the panel used the opportunity to grill her over her role in the Obama administration's handling of the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.

Some or her critics contend she helped her State Department superiors massage the "talking points" about the attack to play down the involvement of terrorists.

Related: Obama nominee questioned on Clinton, Benghazi

Nuland told the Senate panel that she played only a limited role in the review of the Benghazi explanation and never discussed it with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or with Susan Rice, who was ambassador to the U.N. and who delivered the talking points on Sunday talk shows five days after the attack.

“I never edited these talking points,” Nuland told the committee. “I never made changes.”

An independent review last year blamed the State Department for inadequate security but absolved Clinton of any personal wrongdoing, though some Republicans still accuse her of trying to mislead the country.

What's next for Nuland?

Despite the controversy, most observers expect Nuland to be easily confirmed by the Senate. She already has the support of several leading Senate Republicans, including Arizona's John McCain and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Fact check: Obama misrepresents some Benghazi facts

Odds and ends

Nuland has a B.A. from Brown University and speaks Russian, French and some Chinese.

She is the daughter of Yale bioethics and medicine professor Sherwin B. Nuland.

She is married to historian and Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan. The couple have two children.

Sources: State Department, All American Speakers,  Associated Press, Reuters, MSN research

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