CNN Chides Lindsey Graham Not to Block Nominees Over Benghazi

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has threatened to block presidential nominations until the Obama administration gives Congress access to survivors of the Benghazi attacks. CNN lectured him about such tactics on Thursday's New Day, and Graham fired back at White House criticism of him.

"Well, hopefully you can settle this without holding up nominations because I know you will agree with this," co-host Kate Bolduan condescendingly spoke to Graham, "that obstructing one part of government is not a good way to run the other part of government."

Even though it was the White House who had refused access, Bolduan put Graham on the hot seat:

"Senator, what are the chances do you think you're going to get this information? You're going to get access to witnesses? Because quite honestly the White House says they have given, they've gone above and beyond to give you guys information and while a criminal investigation is going on. What are the chances you're going to get it?"

"That's a bunch of garbage," Graham answered. "They haven't provided access to – how can you close the chapter on Benghazi when you've never talked to the witnesses?

And when Bolduan threw another White House talking point at Graham – that he was making it about "politics" – the senator shot back "go tell the parents and the survivors of the four dead Americans that it's okay for the administration never to share the witnesses with the Congress so we can validate whether or not what the families were told about Benghazi is true."

Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on New Day on October 31 at 8:41 a.m. EDT:

KATE BOLDUAN: Now, I want to ask you about Benghazi because you've been very – out there very passionate about this. You're threatening to hold up presidential nominations until the White House lets you and lets other members of Congress speak to or hear from witnesses and survivors of that attack in Benghazi. You told Wolf Blitzer earlier this week that you support – you would even hold up the nomination of Janet Yellen to lead the Federal Reserve in order to get these answers. Have you heard back from the administration about this threat?

(...)

BOLDUAN: Is there another way to do this? Because you know what folks are going to say is that Janet Yellen –

GRAHAM: I'm open minded.

BOLDUAN: – that Janet Yellen leading the Federal Reserve, arguably one of the most important positions that will be leading in Washington in the coming years – in years ahead. Is it fair to hold up one part of government in order to get – make a point on another?

(...)

BOLDUAN: Now, I want you to respond to the White House. The White House has said that this isn't about Benghazi at all. They say it's about politics for you. You're up for re-election this year. What do you say to Jay Carney, who was one of the people who said that?

GRAHAM: Go tell the – go tell the parents and the survivors of the four dead Americans that it's okay for the administration never to share the witnesses with the Congress so we can validate whether or not what the families were told about Benghazi is true. Fourteen months later, do we know how this protest story started when all of the evidence from day one suggested terrorist attacks?

(...)

BOLDUAN: Senator, what are the chances do you think you're going to get this information? You're going to get access to witnesses? Because quite honestly the White House says they have given, they've gone above and beyond to give you guys information and while a criminal investigation is going on. What are the chances you're going to get it?

GRAHAM: Very good. That's a bunch of garbage. They haven't provided access to – how can you close the chapter on Benghazi when you've never talked to the witnesses? The Accountability Review Board, an internal State Department organization, had access to the witnesses. We're supposed to believe them and can't you know interview the witnesses ourselves? I'm asking every Republican and Democrats to join together and tell this administration you can't get away with this. This is a bad precedent.

What would the world look like, America look like if you have a failure like this and they use the criminal process – 9/11, you couldn't investigate 9/11 under the theory that there may be a potential crime prosecuted later. That's a ridiculous concept. And now a Al-Qaeda attack is not a crime, it's a national security event. This was a national security failure and the truth is not coming out and the only way it will come out is to have access to the witnesses.

I'm asking every Republican to stand with me and Democrats to make this administration do the right thing. Can you imagine what Democrats would be doing if this were the Bush administration? No, you can't talk to any of the witnesses. Go away. We're not going to share with you FBI information in real time.

BOLDUAN: Well, hopefully you can settle this without holding up nominations because I know you will agree with this –  

GRAHAM: I would like that.

BOLDUAN: – that obstructing one part of government is not a good way to run the other part of government. I know you agree with that, so hopefully you can work it out.

GRAHAM: I do believe in oversight, too, that one part of the government has to answer to the other.
 

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014