Graham vows to block nominations unless White House more forthcoming
February 10th, 2013
01:12 PM ET
10 years ago

Graham vows to block nominations unless White House more forthcoming

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's nominees for secretary of defense and CIA director could be held up by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham unless the White House provides more information about its response to September's attack on an American diplomatic post in Libya.

The South Carolina lawmaker made the threat Sunday on CBS, using the phrase "no confirmation without information" in vowing to put a hold on the nominations of both John Brennan and Chuck Hagel unless the Obama administration provides more information about the Benghazi attack.

"I don't think we should allow Brennan to go forward with the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed for secretary of defense, until the White House gives us an accounting," Graham said. "Did the president ever pick up the phone and call anyone from the Libyan government to help these folks? What did the president do?"

Previously, Graham had vowed to put a hold on Hagel's nomination unless outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before Congress on the Benghazi attacks. Panetta testified last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying that without direct warning or advance intelligence of the September 11, 2012, attack, there was no way for the military to respond in time.

Graham, along with other Republicans, has also criticized the Obama administration's immediate response to the attack, particularly the appearance of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice less than a week later on Sunday talk shows, where she blamed the attack on anger generated by an anti-Muslim video.

Rice has explained her remarks as derived from administration talking points, which Graham said Sunday had not yet been sufficiently explained.

"I want to know who changed the talking points. Who took the references to al Qaeda out of the talking points given to Susan Rice? We still don't know," said Graham, who specified that he would not filibuster the nominees, but rather hold them up until more information is disclosed.

Sen. John McCain, a close Republican ally of Graham's in the Senate, said Monday he would not support a filibuster of Hagel, which would be unprecedented for a president's Cabinet nominee.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Sunday in response to Graham's comments that the White House believes "the Senate should act swiftly to confirm John Brennan and Sen. Hagel. These are critical national security positions, and individual members shouldn't play politics with their nominations."

CNN's Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.

Filed under: Chuck Hagel • John Brennan • Lindsey Graham
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. GaryB

    Considering that there were several dozen violent demonstrations across the globe tied to the video during that week, it wasn't unreasonable to think that the attack on the Benghazi mission might be tied to Islamic terrorists responding to the video. In the end, I don't suppose it makes that much difference what their motivation was. What might be more interesting to discover is why the ambassador decided to leave the relative safety of the embassy to spend as much time as he did at a diplomatic mission with minimal fortifications.

    February 10, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. marty

    Words of wisdom – it takes one to know one!

    February 10, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. old professor

    Graham is just looking for publicity. If he were to follow through with his bluff, the Republican party loses even more of it credibility. That kind of action is just more proof the Republican Party has no concern for the welfare of the country.

    There is no way the Congress can be allowed to run the agencies that protect the country. The country would be at war with half the countries in Middle East.

    February 10, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. wmontanye

    Graham along with John McCain need to call it a day....

    February 10, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  5. Dan in FL

    More irrational hate and obstruction from Lindsey Graham. I used to respect the man, but not anymore. Presumably, there are still good men and women in the Republican Party who need to stand up and put Graham in his place. South Carolina voters need to put him in the unemployment line.

    Former Secretary Clinton was correct: in the end it doesn't matter what you say caused the attack and resulting deaths of US personnel in Benghazi. The only thing that matters going forward is whether we will do a better job assessing threats and taking the appropriate proactive steps (greater armed protection, reduction of personnel, closing the facility, etc.) to keep US citizens safe. Congress needs to be constructive and less destructive.

    February 10, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Steven

    Graham is anpother one of the GOP stalwarts that needs to shut up and go away. He's embarrassing himself and his party.

    February 10, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  7. Time for a Big Pay Day

    Time for him to retire.

    February 10, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  8. pedro bundol

    Good. It is about time the Republicans gather enough guts to fight back. No administration had ever done what this one did in evading answers that could give light to what really happened in Benghazi. They lie, cheat, evade. Also I do not think that there was an American President who failed to give help to his fellow citizens crying for help. I really do hope they get to the bottom of this. Panetta knows what happened, Hillary knows what happened and so does Gen Dempsey. By the way what about those survivors ? When will they give interviews about the real truth ?

    February 10, 2013 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. michael

    Who cares what senator Graham thinks! He's a repuglican talking head, for extremist neocon racist talking points! I think he is part of the problem congress has, extremely partisan and will get nothing done! Repuglican president was not elected due to their talking points, which were unpopular with the people.

    February 10, 2013 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. MBSeattle

    More grid lock from the GOP. Pray for the GOP they need help.

    February 10, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. timz

    When will Lindsay Graham do the honorable thing and resign his Senate seat? He has become an embarrassment to the country.

    February 10, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. MaryM

    These TP backed congress people need to be replaced asap. They are obstructionist. And the once great American war hero, McCain has become a bitter old dinosaur. Time for McCain to retire

    February 10, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. cbp

    Why does CBS continue to bring Lindsay Graham on their Sunday morning shows. Sen. Graham had said the same thing fifty different ways but he has yet to try to meet with the President to air out their differences. His sidekicks have left him to do this by himself.

    Benghazi has been the impetus for changes at the State Department. Two people were asked to resign and they did. Secretary of State came to Congress to testify. She answered their questions if they did not like her answers. Sen. Graham was rude and wanted to ascribe more blame and have more hearings. Before she appeared Sen. Graham just about accused her of using her health as a reason for not testifying. His remarks were uncalled for at the time and it is now time for him to let the issue go. He was part of the Congress that made cuts to the budget for security troops. He was not worried then. Now that he is fearful of losing his seat he has chosen this attack to make his mark. There seem to be other issues facing this man as well which are being masked by this attack on the administration.

    The major networks need to choose others to speak. I wonder how much of an audience they have when he is on the show.

    February 10, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
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