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. notahistorianbut

    Does that mean that Rice was a murderer of the 84 embassy and consulate staff that died during the Bush years? Just asking? Where was the outrage and congressional hearings when the Bush administration was in charge?

    January 29, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Leon

    Poor Lindsay Graham. What must it be like to be in a log cabin closet.

    January 29, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Chaerlotte

    Irresponsible, clueless and indefensible hyperbole. What then should we say about the dozens of attacks and many deaths at embassies that occurred during the Rumsfeld reign?

    January 29, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. paul

    OK is some more "MATH" for you......911.....3,000 dead......iraq war....over 4,000 dead.....equals.....idiot BUSH.....and he was voted in twice......good shut up and retire.......

    January 29, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Bart

    Graham is McCain's lapdog – McCain goes all in on this and Graham will have to as well. Graham also followed McCain on immigration. Also, "murder" is a legal term meaning that she had the intention of killing those people. He is a skunk and should be ashamed of himself. But again these are Republicans who always put their ideology and party ahead of country, all the while wearing flag pins on their lapels.

    January 29, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. aaron

    Pot kettle black. He's forgotten his role in getting Americans killed in Iraq, a war instigated based on fabrications and pushed by Repubs so the oil companies, Haliburton, and Blackwater could make billions.

    January 29, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. jeff tartt

    Way to go Graham! Someone who's not afraid to speak the truth in D.C. This is a good man.

    January 29, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. mgctampa

    He and John Mcain need to take their angry old butts and retire.

    January 29, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. MBW

    Lindsey Graham absolutely has an *excellent* point. And isn't it the *most important* responsibility the U.S. President (and by extension, his Secretary of State) has to safegaurd the lives of Americans, both here on US soil and abroad ?? The cable had been sent on August 15, almost a full month before the Sept 11 Benghazi attack, and it furthermore just seems to make common sense to strengthen security since Libya had recently gone through civil war & unrest.

    January 29, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  10. Dan

    Anybody interviewed the survivors of the Benghazi attack yet? Why so quiet?

    January 29, 2013 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  11. mgctampa

    Funny how he and Mcain both forget its the congress who has held up the money for increased security; contiuing their path of obstruction!!

    January 29, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. Dunlar

    “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”

    What did Bush get away with?

    January 29, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Yeoomala

    And what about Dick Cheney? Do you feel the same way with him, Senator or is this a partisan attack only? Fair is fair.

    January 29, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. batjones

    Senator Graham should ask his buddy, Senator McCain, what he did after he spoke with Ambassador Stephens. Senator McCain said he learned of the security issues from a letter of the Ambassador, and from a subsequent visit with Ambassador. Why did Senator McCain sit on the information. Certainly, Senator McCain is such a media hound that we would have heard him express his dismay in not being able to schedule an appointment with the President, or to get his phone calls returned by the Secretary of State. I think the time for apologies has past. The Attorney General should just proceed with charges of sedition against Senator Graham.

    January 29, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  15. DL

    And yet........the most attacks on Embassies in the history of the United States, with the Highest Death Toll took place when Republicans were in charge...yet they completely ignored it. These people are worthless.

    January 29, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. Janet

    I am fortunate to live in SC and during the next election, will be making a concerted effort to vote this scroundel OUT OF OFFICE! He has repeatedly been a disgrace to himself, to this state and to the nation. Another prime example of too big for his Senatorial britches!

    January 29, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. andrew

    If Hillary's indirect connect to this was 'getting away with murder', the NRA must be 'getting away with murder' many times a day.

    January 29, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. dan

    Comments will come back to haunt her? Can this man not ready an approval poll? 67% says to me that she'll be back as the presumptive democratic candidate and that anyone who thinks they can ride this issue against her will be wasting their time as she buries them alive.

    January 29, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. hulamama

    If this were a sitting Republican President....the media would be all over it and there would be demands for a criminal investigation BUT this media doesn't want to do anything to upset the Obama Administration or anyone connected with it. Where are the families of the 4 who were murdered? Why haven't we heard anything from them? COVER UP !!!

    January 29, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. Warren

    Where was Lindsay when George B., Colin P., D. Rumsfeld and D. Cheney were portraying Iraq as having weapons of mass destruction as a reason to go to war? And just how much of what the "fed" us had been verified by any of them?.

    January 29, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Dave

    I'm sure Graham was like a terrier when it came to asking for an investigation into Bush's actions in regards to Iraq. I swear I've seen more adult acting activities in the sandbox. Can these guys act any more childish, or is it just that this is what America has come to expect from their leaders so they don't let us down? Graham is more concerned with making Hillary look bad then anything else. He could care less that 4 people lost their lives...look how many his leader Bush cost us, and still he sleeps perfectly well at night. I wish we could just get rid of the lot of them and start again.

    January 29, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. bill elliott

    I am deeply saddened by his remarks and his judgement. In the world of violence in which we live these things happen. No matter how astute we are or how great we are in our work and in our dedication, things like this happen.Certainly it is good to investigate and get to the facts.But if you have an another agenda, no matter what the facts are, unless they fit into your agenda they will never be enough.Graham must have something more to do than to continue to mistreat this incredible woman, who has served his country so well for so many years. Let it go!!

    January 29, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. snugghawaii

    If it was a man in that position, he would call him a hero.....May be some jealousy that she knows how to handle her position in a professional manner. Perhaps he should try that along with the other cry babies in Washington; especially the Speaker of the House...

    January 29, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. JohnK

    By this partisan measure, Bush is guilty of murder for the 3,000+ deaths on 9/11 because he failed to take action on intelligence reports the CIA received beforehand.

    Republicans just can't seem to resist coming up wiith such ridiculous "conspiracy theories" to explain complex situations that they are too dumb to understand.

    January 29, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  25. glorydays

    What did Graham say about the terror attacks under the Reagan watch?

    January 29, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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