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. AirForceVet

    Very sad how the Benghazi attack is being used politically by Republicans. Having served in the Air Force I would have expected more from Senator Graham, but his service was as a military lawyer. His career has really been in the House and now the Senate. He has managed nothing more than pushing papers. He has lead nothing more than political attack dogs. If he believes Secretary Clinton lied then where are the hearings and investigation? Yes, he's not on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, but I'm sure he could influence some of the Republican Senators who are on the committee. Where was his outrage over the false premise that we went to war for in Iraq? Where is his outrage over the lives lost?

    January 29, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. bro

    you republicans are so pathetically stupid, and a danger to the USA

    January 29, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  3. Rick

    Wow and Lindsey is usually fairly moderate. Guess he didn't listen to Jindal's speech. Then again, what would a repug be without absurd hyperbole.

    January 29, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  4. DJH

    He is up for reelection here and he is running scared. Bashing Democrats sells big here in SC.

    January 29, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  5. jj

    Graham supports the Republican decision makers who take us to war – does he call them murderers?

    January 29, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  6. Tom

    Where were these sort of antics when we went to war with Iraq and Condalesa Rice COMPLETELY mislabeled WMDs that never existed? Except the toll here would be our involvement in Iraq....a trillion dollar war, we could go on about the consequences forever. Bottom line, rediculous to get on the current administration so much after we literally went to war over Rice's intelligence that was not just off, but COMPLETELY WRONG!!!!!

    January 29, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  7. Pete/Ark

    In his simpering little lisp he has come as close to actionable slander as he dares....

    January 29, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. DB


    You should stop digging.

    January 29, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. buzz1975

    Graham just needs to retire and become a Fox News pundit....that's about all he seems to be capable of with hishyperbole and foot-stomping and mud-slinging tantrums. Then the GOP wonders why most Americans don't take them seriously?

    January 29, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  10. ggram

    This man is positioning himself to be the next "Nastiest Man in Politics"...hopefully dethroning Mitch 'Voldemort' Mc Connell who fingers crossed is going to be voted out of office in 2yrs. He's just a name calling ignorant back woods boob. Talk about partisionship? He's a hate monger of all that is not him or his party's policies.

    January 29, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Why does every criticism of a Democrat ALWAYS illicit a response like "such and such republican...." or "the previous administration...', "or we inherited...." . For just once stand up and take responsibility (or stop all that, the buck stops here nonsense). The state department screwed up. Security was lax. Al Qeada was not in retreat as we were told. The Ambassador was CLEARLY in the wrong place with inqdequate secutiry on 9/11. Take responsibility, you losers.

    January 29, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. Evolve

    WHy do we have traitor like Graham in power? Republicans are the american Taliban, traitors!!!

    January 29, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. slippery

    Slippin' 'n slidin'. A real forked-tongue. His brand of pratiotism needs to vanish along with his shirt-tail followers.

    January 29, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. Patines

    It's good to see them digging their own pit.

    January 29, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  15. Anchorite

    You can express your opinion of people as screw-ups, but you cannot accuse people of a statutory crime such as murder or treason as a form of rhetoric in this country. Clinton ought to sue this guy for libel.

    January 29, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. gregory21

    He's just trying to make noise, because if she runs for pres. in 2016, they know the gop will be out anothe 8yrs.
    him and mccain are two dirt bags.

    January 29, 2013 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. Michael

    Least her resignation keeps her from getting impeached and thrown out. Not EVER going to be POTUS.

    January 29, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. TheTruth

    There were no warnings of the attacks under Bush (or Jimmy Carter), but the Benghazi consulate had 48 security incidents in 60 days, including 2 bombings, and the ambassador was begging daily for increased security (which was denied daily). Further, intelligence reported that another assault on the consulate was imminent. Add to that the sworn testimony that Hillary had ordered that security be kept artificialy low. And that security was far under budget. And all other consulates had already closed due to security threats. In light of that, yes, Hillary is responsible.

    January 29, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. sceptichound

    GOP is running scared of Hillary in 2016. The Benghazi incident is a weed that the GOP is trying to plant in Clinton's garden so they have something to scream and point at come election time. Everybody knows that politics is just like a game of liar's dice. What they say can never be taken at face value. There's always a hidden agenda.

    January 29, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. we are one

    You are nut Graham. Are you republican? If you are so I am not surprised why Jindal named your party as .... party. I am undecided voter but I am not voting Republican because of their low IQ.

    January 29, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Man, murder..that's quite harsh!!

    January 29, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. Facts don't Lie

    I recall former President Bush making light out of not finding the WMD that lead us into war...looking under tables and the like. I bet Sen Graham had no problem with that and though it was a hoot! Just like GWB practically gave up looking for Bin Laden and shrugged it off when asked about it. NOBODY in the GOP can call anybody a murder after all that.

    January 29, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  23. bigdrop

    You Dems are pathetic. P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C. The state department dropped the ball BIG TIME and Replican lawmakers are not even allowed to complain? Again, PATHETIC.

    January 29, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  24. John Tater

    Anyone who has ever served in an embassy knows this is either political games or ignorance on Graham's part. Embassies are out there, vulnerable, that's their whole nature, and that's why the rules of the game say the host country is responsible for protecting the embassy.

    January 29, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  25. doc

    Yep, Graham is running hard to the right in anticipation of a Tea Party challenge. That, of course, doesn't excuse his nonsensical rhetoric, and his vicious personal attack on Ms. Clinton

    January 29, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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