Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday blasted a House GOP-led investigation that recently debunked myths about the 2012 Benghazi attack.
“I think the report is full of crap,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The House Intelligence Committee released a report on Friday evening, which took two years to compile, that found there was no outright intelligence failure during the attack, there was no delay in the rescue of U.S. personnel and there was no political cover-up by Obama administration officials.
After Graham was asked whether the report exonerates the administration, he initially ignored the question, and then eventually said “no.”
“I’m close to the people in the House, but I’m disappointed in my party. Are we still the party of self-deportation?” he asked.
President Obama in a separate interview Sunday blamed Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for not taking up legislation the Senate passed in 2013 on immigration and still urges Congress to pass a bill on the issue.
“Is it the position of the Republican Party that the 11 million must be driven out? I have never been in that camp as being practical. I am in the camp of securing our borders first, fixing a broken legal immigration, have an E-Verify program so you can’t cheat,” Graham added.
Obama has made a “political decision” to issue his own executive actions on immigration, said Graham, who called the new orders unconstitutional.
“He made a political decision to try to divide the Republican Party,” he said, “and take the office of the presidency to a level no one else has gone.”
In the aftermath of the attacks, Republicans criticized the Obama administration and its then-secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is expected to run for president in 2016. People in and out of government have alleged that a CIA response team was ordered to “stand down” after the State Department compound came under attack, that a military rescue was nixed, that officials intentionally downplayed the role of al Qaeda figures in the attack, and that Ambassador Stevens and the CIA were involved in a secret operation to spirit weapons out of Libya and into the hands of Syrian rebels. None of that is true, according to the report.
Committee members said they had “endeavored to make the facts and conclusions within this report widely and publicly available so that the American public can separate the actual facts from the swirl of rumors and unsupported allegations.”
The report released Friday does not end the controversy over how the Obama administration and the agencies it oversees conducted themselves during the period surrounding the Benghazi attack. The House Select Committee on Benghazi has yet to complete its investigation.
“The Select Committee on Benghazi received the Intelligence committee’s report on the Benghazi terrorist attack, and has reviewed it along with other committee reports and materials as the investigation proceeds,” spokesman Jamal Ware said in a statement. “It will aid the Select Committee’s comprehensive investigation to determine the full facts of what happened in Benghazi, Libya before, during and after the attack and contribute toward our final, definitive accounting of the attack on behalf of Congress.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday did not rule out a 2016 presidential bid.
“I’m thinking of trying to fix illegal immigration and replacing sequestration. I will let you know if I think about running for president. It’s the hardest thing one could ever do. You go through personal hell. You have got to raise a ton of money. I’m nowhere near there,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Asked if his response could be labeled as a “maybe,” Graham nodded and said, “That’s what it was.”
Graham floated the idea of a White House run in an interview in October in which he said his decision could be determined by whether other foreign policy hawks enter the race.
Republicans hope to keep the Benghazi issue alive through the 2016 presidential campaign against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who was Secretary of State during the terrorist attack. Graham is also mulling a presidential run for the GOP.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) defended his committee’s report as bipartisan and exhaustive. The report found more security was needed at the US facility in Benghazi, but it debunked myths the administration conspired, spun and covered up facts, Schiff said.
“They’ve been completely vindicated,” he said on CNN.
Schiff also sits on the GOP-created Benghazi committee that formed this year to launch its own investigation into what went wrong.
“If Hillary Clinton were not a likely candidate for president I think this investigation would be over with a long time ago,” Schiff said. “… At a certain point you have to be willing to accept the answer that there was no conspiracy if, in fact, you cannot produce evidence of one.”
That’s pretty much a slam-dunk refutation of the entire Benghazi conspiracy theory so avidly argued by many conservatives, and again, it comes from the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee. Similar press accounts of the committee findings were filed by NPR, the Washington Post, The Hill, NBC, etc. The whole right-wing Benghazi narrative is exposed for what it always was, which is nonsense.
Of course, no media outlet has been more fixated on Benghazi than Fox News.
The content of the Fox report is what’s really astonishing. To read the Fox story, the House Intelligence Committee confirmed rather than refuted the over-the-top allegations that Fox has been peddling for so long. Someone reading that Fox story and only that Fox story would not have the slightest idea that in fact the House intelligence panel had thoroughly rejected almost every aspect of the Fox version of Benghazi.
Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director and moderator of Meet the Press, spoke with Senators Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Sunday to discuss a variety of issues including President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration as well as the Benghazi terrorist attack.
After discussing immigration for the majority of the interview, Todd brought up a new House Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi and eagerly asked Republican Senator Jeff Flake “is it time for the Republicans to drop the Benghazi conspiracy theories?”
For his part, Senator Flake argued that “the biggest problem with Benghazi is how it was cast by the administration, and the remarks of Susan Rice just really flew in the face of what we knew was going on.”
Chuck Todd’s insistence that Benghazi is a conspiracy theory should come as no surprise given his history of carrying water for the Obama administration. On May 8, 2013 the NBC News Political Director argued that it was “very rational” for the administration not hot have sent more special ops to Benghazi.