Graham: WH told me to 'take a hike' over Benghazi questions
By Justin Sink - 10/30/13 10:39 AM EDT
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the White House told him to "take a hike" when he pressed for information about the survivors of the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi.
The South Carolina lawmaker told CNN that the administration's refusal to make the witnesses available for congressional questioning is "an unacceptable way for the Obama administration to behave."
"Can you imagine if this were the Bush administration and they were refusing to make available survivors of a national security debacle to the Congress and would not provide FBI interviews about an al Qaeda-inspired attack, what would be happening in this country?" Graham said.
On Monday, Graham said he planned to block confirmation of all the president's nominees until U.S. personnel present during the attack were made available.
Under Senate rules, individual lawmakers can place holds on nominations and legislation, which requires unanimous consent to proceed. But, like a filibuster, holds can be defeated through a successful cloture vote, which requires at least 60 senators voting to proceed.
Graham’s threat was prompted by a CBS “60 Minutes” report Sunday night that noted more than two-dozen Americans who survived the attack have not been seen or heard from in public since.
Republicans have accused the administration of stymying an investigation into the incident out of political concerns.
But the administration has said that witnesses were interviewed by an independent accountability review board, led by former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. They say Republicans have politicized the Benghazi tragedy, where four Americans lost their lives.
“The State Department has worked in good faith to meet the Hill’s many requests and they will continue to review legitimate incoming requests,” White House press secretary Jay Canrey said on Monday. “But let’s be clear that some Republicans are choosing to play politics with this for partisan purposes, and we find that unfortunate.”