CNN's Toobin Says Benghazi Is Not a Scandal; 'There Is Nothing There'
CNN's senior legal analyst thinks that any further investigation into Benghazi is looking at a "non-story" since "there is nothing there, in terms of a scandal."
On Thursday's AC360 Later, Jeffrey Toobin scoffed at Republican efforts to gain access to more Benghazi witnesses and CIA operatives. "This is a non-story. Benghazi was a tragedy. It's not a scandal. Republicans are going to investigate this until the end of the Obama administration. They will find nothing, because there's nothing to be found there," he insisted. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
"We don't know all the facts about the Civil War. If you want all the facts about something, you're never going to get it," Toobin added later.
TheBlaze.com's Amy Holmes pointed out that "this only happened two years ago versus the Civil War," but Toobin still wouldn't buy it. "You're looking for some sort of smoking gun to implicate the president and Hillary Clinton. That's all that anybody is interested in. And there's nothing there."
Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on AC360 Later on November 1 at 10:18 p.m. EDT:
ANDERSON COOPER: Congressional Republicans may soon get some of the testimony that they have been demanding more than a year after the terrorist attacks that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
So far, sources say only one of an estimated two dozen CIA operatives has testified before Congress. Now CNN's Drew Griffin has learned that a House Intelligence Subcommittee is scheduled to hear from others CIA security officers, including former Navy SEALs and former Marines, who are expected to give more details on what happened in Benghazi.
Back with Andrew Sullivan, founder of The Dish, Amy Holmes, anchor of "The Hot List" at TheBlaze.com, CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and former New York Republican Congressman Rick Lazio. What do you make of – Jeff, I know you have strong feelings on the reporting on Benghazi.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN senior legal analyst: This is a non-story. Benghazi was a tragedy. It's not a scandal. Republicans are going to investigate this until the end of the Obama administration. They will find nothing, because there's nothing to be found there. There's no scandal. These are brave, honorable people who were killed in the line of duty just like Foreign Service officers and CIA officers have been killed in the line of duty before. There is nothing there, in terms of a scandal. But Republicans can continue doing this as long as they want.
COOPER: So Susan Rice saying that there was link to the videos, to you, that's not significant? That was a –
TOOBIN: It was in the immediate aftermath, it was unclear what happened. They corrected their statements within a day.
AMY HOLMES, TheBlaze.com: They didn't, though, Jeff. President Obama went to the U.N. and he gave a speech saying that this was about a YouTube video, almost attacking free speech, frankly, saying that as the United States we will not stand for this sort of insult to Islam. He said this two weeks after – after it was well-known that it was a planned coordinated terrorist attack.
TOOBIN: Explain to me –
HOLMES: Had nothing to do with the YouTube video.
TOOBIN: What is the scandal here? What happened that justifies all these investigations?
RICK LAZIO, former New York congressman (R): So let me say three reasons why I think it matters. Number one, for the first time in 30 years, American diplomats were killed on diplomatic soil, on U.S. soil, number one. Number two, it matters for people that are going into the Diplomatic Corps and whether or not they trust their nation when there's information that they could be at serious risk, as the ambassador had communicated, whether or not we took precautions to actually address that, and whether we could execute on it. Next, once there was a firefight and we knew there was lots of reasons why this was predictable that we were going to be at siege at that particular compound –
HOLMES: On 9/11.
LAZIO: – and we were advised either by the principal consultant to that embassy after the United Kingdom's embassy had been attacked, as predicted and as called for by al Qaeda, that we should either move it, move the location or beef up security. That was ignored. Then, once we were under fire and it was over an hour before they found out nobody was coming, and, of course, the firefight ended several hours later when in fact there might have been some cover and some lives could have been saved.
TOOBIN: And the entire reason that the Republicans have been pursuing this is to implicate Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
TOOBIN: So wait a second. So your complaint is that there weren't reinforcements sent quickly enough. Did Hillary Clinton not send those reinforcements? Did Barack Obama not send those reinforcements?
HOLMES: We don't know. That's the problem. That is the problem.
TOOBIN: Oh, you don't know. You know what? This is the thing.
HOLMES: We have Leon Panetta and Hillary Clinton saying that they didn't meet with the President that night, and we still don't know what the President was doing that night. He won't release that information. And when you say there's nothing there, then why aren't these witnesses being allowed to speak to Congress? Why does Lindsey Graham have to threaten that he's going to block these appointments just to talk to people that our Intelligence Committee has a right and a duty to interview?
TOOBIN: Republicans block appointments as matters of general principles. Today, a perfectly –
TOOBIN: The perfectly qualified nominee for the D.C. Circuit, Patricia Millett, was denied a vote because Republicans wouldn't give her a vote. So Lindsey Graham doesn't need some excuse to block Obama's appointees. Republicans do it as a matter of course.
HOLMES: Why won't the CIA let these people speak to our elected representatives who need to get to the bottom of this and have that responsibility and duty and have top-secret meetings all the time?
COOPER: One argument they're making is that there's going to be – there's a criminal investigation going on, it could interfere with that. I talked to a CIA officer earlier tonight who said that's ridiculous, that as a former undercover CIA officer he used to testify all the time and his cover wasn't blown.
HOLMES: Do we believe that Dianne Feinstein is incapable of holding a secret interrogation, an interview of these folks?
TOOBIN: There have already been two major investigations, all of which have shown no conspiracy. If Republicans want to spend their time doing all this –
HOLMES: You're using the word conspiracy. I'm not using the word conspiracy. I'm talking about getting all the facts.
TOOBIN: We don't know all the facts about the Civil War. If you want all the facts about something, you're never going to get it.
HOLMES: Well, this only happened two years ago vs. the Civil War.
TOOBIN: You're looking for some sort of smoking gun to implicate the president and Hillary Clinton. That's all that anybody is interested in –
TOOBIN: And there's nothing there.