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. Rudy NYC

    ThinkAgain wrote:

    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?
    I believe he was in Crawford trying his luck at Texas Hand Fisherin'/

    January 29, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. WachetAuf

    I once believed that Graham was a moderate voice in the GOP. He is too intelligent to believe that this kind of demagoguery will resolve our most important issues. His words can therefore only be aimed at one thing, staving off a challenge by the Tea Party. Hope he loses. It will seal the demise of the GOP. It is what happens when a few right wing nuts take control. Dissent is not only challenged. It is punished. Stalinist countries have gulags for dissenters. We have something like that in the South. Rather than sending them off to Siberia, alien seeds are implanted into the bodies of politicians who run for office as "Christian conservatives". Although he is too smart to do it, maybe Graham is preparing for a run for the White House. It would be a hoot to see him join the circle jerk with the rest of the cast in 2015.

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

    what a tooooooolllllllllllllllllllllll

    January 29, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Floyd from Illinois

    Graham is one of the biggest reasons that the Republican Party is crumbling like a sand castle.

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

    really this guy does not want to bring away with murder....REALLY... 4 people their lives are as important than any...BUSH on the other hand has "gotton away with MURDER for a WHOLE lot more...
    you know REPUGs...let have this fight out...bring it up in 2016 and it is NOT going to look good for you guys at all....YOU think 2012 was bad.......

    January 29, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Ancient Texan

    The Democrats just spent their time in slobbering adoration and the Republicans spent all of their time making a speech and forgot to ask the questions. The questions that did presented to the SOS were for the most part ignored and waltzed around. When she got the chance she would go on offense and dazzle with her doubletalk. In short we learned NOTHING!

    January 29, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. TheGrinningRomneys

    2014 can't get here fast enough. Keep reassuring each other in the bunker, as the bunker buster comes screaming down.

    January 29, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. rs

    So Mr. Graham- are you going after Mr. Bush, or Ms. Rice- after all on their watch more than 4,400 bright, brave American soldiers were killed serving in Iraq; 120,000 innocent Iraqis were killed; 2 million Iraqis became refugees. If Ms. Clinton is a murder (by your twisted logic), by extension, you and your pathetic party are evil incarnate- the absolute worst of the worst- perhaps a long visit to a certain Cuban Naval Base should be in your future.

    January 29, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Stephen

    I would expect nothing less than one of the dwarfs who tied up the country with the Pres. Clinton impeachment. I get the feeling he thought that if Romney won he may have had a cabinet position. what a small man!

    January 29, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. DocHollywood

    Graham is an embarassment to South Carolina. Facts to these far right republicans have little room in their philosophy. Did Graham "get away with murder" when he voted in favor of the Iraq war? Oh, that's different, huh? The republicans are already starting to go negative because they're afraid that Clinton will run in 2016. But at this point, the way these republicans have conducted themselves, it wouldn't matter who the democrats ran, the republicans would lose anyways.

    January 29, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. david esmay

    The statements made by the queen of the GOP are the height of hypocrisy.

    January 29, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. jerseydevils76

    What does it matter? CNN's already elected her President.

    January 29, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Fr33th1nk3r

    Can we say it now? The GOP is going EXTINCT... And like a drowning swimmer– they won't go quietly, rather, clawing and grabbing for any handhold they can find to save themselves.

    I cannot even take thsi Benghazi witchhunt seriously– Graham is all worked up over the 4 American diplomats and 1 embassy that was sacked while Obama was in charge, but conveniently ignore:

    2002 U.S. Embassy Karachi, Pakistan: 10 killed, 51 injured
    2004 U.S. Embassy bombed in Uzbekistan: 2 killed, several injured
    2004 U.S. Consulate Saudi Arabia: 8 killed
    2006 U.S. Embassy Syria: 1 killed, several injured
    2007 U.S. Embassy in Athens: bombed with an anti-tank grenade; fortunately it was unoccupied
    2008 U.S. Embassy in Serbia: set on fire; 1 dead
    2008 U.S. Embassy in Yemen: bombed; 10 killed

    Republicans– just go away. Nobody cares what you have to say anymore (why would they– "legitimate rapes" non-withstanding), your polifical views have been obsolete since women were allowed to wear pants, and the few conservative viewpoints that have any relevance to teh 21st century are already a part of more moderate political platforms.

    The GOP is now just an example of what NOT to do in politics. AKA, a laghingstock...

    January 29, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  14. Alex

    Everytime Lindsey Graham opens his mouth, I become nauseated. And this rabid trash actually represents a State!!

    January 29, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. whereismyorange

    Graham is a fool that continues to believe there is a conspiracy and refuses to accept the investigation findings.

    January 29, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. Steve

    I've got nothing to add to most of the comments I've read here. Graham is just another of many GOP 'ers that just don't get it.

    January 29, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. RINO2

    That's about what most of us expect out of South Carolina. Maybe he favors Sanford's idea of foreign policy.

    January 29, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. lolo

    The republican party is really out of their ever loving minds. I agree with @John. Not a word about dubya and his mass murdering of innocent people over the big lie about WMDs. He and Cheney should be brought to justice and waterboarded as well, but no, the GOP party was making too much money to care or see the truth. The nerve and the GOP are the ones who cut the embassy security budget. Vote these idiots out please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 29, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. wgf

    I guess Graham has decided to fill the void left by Palin.

    It's unfortunate that 4 security & diplomatic personnel died in Bengazi, but if that's the worst thing that goes wrong in the course of 4 years, then you've had a very good four years. People in diplomatic missions, especially in the Mideast, knowingly risk their lives every day. It's not like it was 3,000 civilians killed in NYC while at work.

    For comparison see: Bush/9-11 & Iraq, Reagan/Lebanon, Carter/Iraq, Nixon,Johnson/Vietnam, Kennedy/Bay Of Pigs, etc, etc, etc.

    For such a tough hard-nosed set of military antagonists, the GOP certainly has a hard time with dealing with the costs of high risk operations.

    January 29, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. spacecalculus

    “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.”
    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

    January 29, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. RINO2

    Another Republican toady.

    January 29, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. timz

    So, according to Lindsey Graham, Ronald Reagan got away with mass murder in 1983 when 299 servicemen (241 of them Americans) were killed by a terrorist bomb in Lebanon. Maybe Lindsey Graham should take the honorable way out and resign his Senate seat.

    January 29, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  23. certifieddba

    What shall we do for bush and his croonies(senators and congressman) killing 4500 american soldiers in the name of WMD in irag and spending trillions in the war. What was graham doing at that time

    January 29, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  24. ksjpw

    HAHAHA! What about your buddies Bush and Chaney? You wanna talk about criminal behavior?......

    January 29, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. Harald

    Are there no people in the Rep. party with an IQ in the double digit ? a few at or two ?...nothing ?
    No wonder that intelligent people don't vote for them.

    January 29, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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