Graham: Clinton 'got away with murder' in Benghazi
January 29th, 2013
03:08 PM ET
9 years ago

Graham: Clinton 'got away with murder' in Benghazi

(CNN) - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, had some biting words about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's testimony last week on the U.S. consulate attack in Libya, saying she "got away with murder."

Asked during an interview about Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, Graham pivoted in his answer and said he won't vote on the nominee until questions are answered about another issue involving the State Department.

Before Hillary Clinton steps down as Secretary of State, her exit interview takes place in The Situation Room! Watch it today at 5 p.m. ET on CNN.

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"I haven't forgotten about Benghazi," Graham said Monday night on Fox News. "Hillary Clinton got away with murder, in my view. She said they had a clear-eyed view of the threats. How could you have a clear-eyed view of the threats in Benghazi when you didn't know about the ambassador's cable coming back from Libya?"

Clinton sat before congressional committees last week to testify on her knowledge of the attack that left four Americans dead. While many senators on the Foreign Relations Committee carried a straight-forward tone, Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Republican Sen. Ron Johnson confronted Clinton about the lead-up to the attack and the aftermath of the violence.

Graham, who doesn't sit on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Clinton was "very good on her feet deflecting" the questions. Should Clinton decide to run for president in 2016, Graham's comments indicate a taste of what's to come as far as GOP opposition to her potential White House bid.

"But she said two things that will come back to haunt her: that they had a clear-eyed assessment of the threats in Libya, and that they had close contact with the Libyan government," he said. "I don't believe either one of them."

Asked in a CNN interview Tuesday why she didn't "connect the dots" about some of the security threats that existed in Libya before the attack, Clinton said those threats were considered "manageable" by the State Department's evaluation and security professionals.

"We have a lot of (threats) around the world. I mean there is a long list of attacks that have been foiled, assassination plots that have been prevented, so this is not some one-off event," she said. "This is considered in an atmosphere of a lot of threats and dangers, and at the end of the day, there was a decision made that this would be evaluated but (the Consulate) would not be closed, and, unfortunately, we know what happened."

Graham has been one of the leading senators in calling for more answers on the Libya attack. He played a major role in questioning U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice's comments explaining the attack as a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam film. The intelligence community later deemed the violence as a terrorist attack.

Rice ultimately withdrew her name from consideration as Clinton's successor to secretary of state, following repeated criticism from Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

An independent report, ordered by the State Department, said it did not find "that any individual U.S. Government employee engaged in misconduct or willfully ignored his or her responsibilities" leading up to the attack. However, one State Department official resigned and three others were placed on administrative leave after the report was released in December.

- CNN's Elise Labott and Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Libya • Lindsey Graham
soundoff (313 Responses)
  1. ThinkAgain

    Hmmm, "clear eyed view". Looking at the transcript of the from statement made by Sec. Clinton before the committee, I see:

    "Any clear-eyed examination of this matter must begin with this sobering fact: Since 1988, there have been 19 Accountability Review Boards investigating attacks on American diplomats and their facilities. Since 1977, 65 American diplomatic personnel have been killed by terrorists. In addition to those who have been killed, we know what happened in Tehran with hostages being taken in 1979, our Embassy and Marine barracks bombed in Beirut in 1983, Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, our embassies in East Africa in 1998, consulate staff murdered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2004, the Khost attack in Afghanistan in 2009, and too many others."

    She also uses the word "clear" in this context: "I pledged in my letter to you last month that implementation has now begun on all 29 recommendations. We’ve translated them into 64 specific action items. They were all assigned to specific bureaus and offices with clear timelines for completion. Fully 85 percent are on track to be completed by the end of March, with a number completed already. But we are also taking a top-to-bottom look to rethink how we make decisions on where, when and whether our people should operate in high-threat areas, and how we respond."

    Where in all of this did Sec. Clinton say they had a "clear-eyed view of the threats"?

    January 29, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  2. John

    Then I would say Bush got away with mass murder. But since we expect incompetence from the right, that murder and the others in Iraq are all excusable. Oh, and Katrina too. All excusable.

    January 29, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. cg

    Got away with murder? What risk has Graham every taken for his country or anyone else? In the air force he flew a desk. What a jerk.

    January 29, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. ddzd

    She clearly said that the memo was lost in her bureaucracy. She is guilty... if not of murder, then in disorganization that led to murder. Either way, she has shown that she doesn't run a tight ship and that key info slips through the cracks... not a good sign for any 2016 plans.

    January 29, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. Glennf

    Thus spoke another Holier than thou Republican. One thing we can say though is their hindsight is superlative. They are after all Always right, really right, really really right.... so far right we can't understand what they are talking about.

    January 29, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Where was Graham when GW Bush was ignoring the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief specifically stating that al Qaeda wanted to attack the U.S. using airplanes? Where was the outrage that Bush's reaction to this threat was to go on vacation in Texas?

    January 29, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Ludwig

    Lindsey Graham has for years been an expert in getting face time with the media. However I'm still waiting for him to say something worthwhile or intelligent. What a dufus.

    January 29, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. Randy

    Bush and WMD's rates as one of the biggest lies ever told to the American people by their government. Everything else pales in comparison to this event. Hard to estimate the total number of deaths American and Iraqi that this lie is responsible for. GOP has no credibility, why don't the voters just make them go away.

    January 29, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  9. polter

    And Bush/Cheney got away with the murder of 4000 of our brave service people and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani citizens. If Graham was so interested in justice, why didn't he do something then? His viscious, personal attack on Ms. Clinton shows the low caliber of this man. However, he is not that much different than most of the GOP leadership at this point.

    January 29, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Ellis Island

    Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, etc. Hey Lindsey Graham, where were you when the Republican administration was murdering people right and left and then sent 4,000 of our troops to early graves? The hypocrisy of this would be amazing, except it's Senator G. Who would expect anything else?? The blood is on YOUR hands, sir.

    January 29, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. al

    can hardly wait till mid term elections and get rid of more dunb-ass repulicans

    January 29, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. Justice

    Hillary Clinton didn't murder anyone and no doubt is suffering over the death of her friend the Ambassador and the 3 other Americans who were murdered by Terrorists. What she is guilty of is derilection of duty. While she may be the most traveled SOS that the USA ever had, she didn't know what was going on (or not going on) right under her nose for areas in which she bears the responsibility. She may have failed in her job but she murdered no one in Benghazi that day.

    January 29, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. Wendy

    When they ask questions about how many children were killed in Iraq- I will take political statements like this one more seriously! The Sentators seem to have an inconsistent "value" system and moral compass.

    January 29, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Mshell

    What a ridiculous headline. Drama Queens for sure!!!!

    January 29, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. John

    It OK for the Republican to lose 2,000 or more American Life In Iraq over nothing but Lies, but they call her a murderer for the four she couldn't have help and didn't know that he needed help until It has to late to do anything about It. All this Is a Republican witch hunt. They till can't get over that they Lost the election ,and this Is why the Republican will continue to lose.

    January 29, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Sly

    "Graham the gay Chsrlatan."

    It is obvious this guy has a little sugar in his tank – just look at that photo. Not a problem to me, but closet gays are really wimpy men – come on out Lindsay (wait, is his name really Linsday? Say no more!).

    Sorry girl ... but get your panties out of that bun and go back to the "Where is his birth certificate?" movement that you led.

    January 29, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. SuperD

    Hillary Clinton could not cut it as a mid level manager in a corporation. She's overated, has little to no actual accomplishments in either the Senate or as SOS.

    Bill leaves the White House, low and behold, Hillary is the new Senator from New York! It's that easy! Then comes the Dem primary, where she meets even a bigger devil than herself, BO. That does not work out, so she and her campaign instead of paying off the campaign debt, it's off to be SOS!

    Any sober non-progressive can she she accomplished little and more than likely made things worse, Arab Spring, Eqypt, Iran and so on.

    In 2016 her thighs are going to be as big as 2 fat hams. She looks terrible, she's showing her age. 4 years from now all the makeup in the world is not going to help her.

    If she has half a brain, she ride off into the sunset while she's ahead.

    January 29, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Snow

    well George W and his band of merry men, including graham, got away with murder at a global scale.. thousands of americans, hundreds of thousands of innocents in ME.. how about going after them too? scared to touch their own seats?

    January 29, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. icurheinie

    That people like Senator Graham are still mining this tragedy for politics is appalling. Stevens is rolling in his grave.

    January 29, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. sc

    tea party got to keep the nuts happy so they don't knock him out the box in the primaries. Lets face it folks, the actual tea party root is a terror party. Sweet Linds is scared and has to stay in line.

    January 29, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. Anthony in California

    "Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference – at this point – does it make?" This chilling outburst resounds – and says it all about not only Clinton – but about this administration."

    AND she will still be President. Looking forward to more of your complaining in the future as well.

    January 29, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. patNY

    This coming from a member of the party that deprives the State Dept. of the necessary funds it needs to provide adequate security at our embassies. Nice try!

    January 29, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Wendy

    oops- Senators

    January 29, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. JPB

    What an out of touch hypocrite. Benghazi amounts to a tragic car accident compared to the obscene loss of life that occurred under the Bush administration: 3000+ dead in NYC, 4000+ US dead in Iraq (not to mention the innocent Iraqs), ...
    Where was his indignation then? These guys are clowns!

    January 29, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Chris

    Lindsay (DADT) Graham is an idiot and a panderer. The country is catching on to him, McCain, Rand Paul and the others on the Republican side; they'll say anything, and do anything, for political advantage and for the advantage of their corporate masters. Enough. Toss him out.

    January 29, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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