Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he won’t pull his hold on Obama nominees when asked if he’d do so in light of 60 Minutes retracting and apologizing for its latest Benghazi exposé.
CBS ran an apology at the end of Sunday night’s broadcast, saying their main source, British security contractor Dylan Davies, misled them and gave a different account of events that night than he gave to the FBI. Davies told the news program that he was in the thick of the fighting and saw Ambassador Chris Stevens’ body while previously telling his employer that he didn’t reach the compound.
“My request has been going on for a year, to talk to the five survivors of the State Department. I never asked for the British contractor. I didn’t know he existed,” Graham said Sunday on CNN.
“We’ve written one letter to the president — myself, Kelly Ayotte and John McCain; two to Secretary Kerry. On the 24th of September, we said we would like to interview the survivors, the five State Department officials, who have been interviewed by the administration, but not by Congress,” he continued. “The 60 Minutes story says that the attack on the compounded was not a protest, but a preplanned al-Qaeda attack that you could see coming for months. And people who said that were not the British contractor.”
Graham stressed he still has a range of questions for the survivors including whether they ever told the FBI that there was a protest outside the diplomatic facility and what they saw in terms of al-Qaeda buildup in Benghazi.
The Obama administration faces a Senate hold on all of its upcoming nominees — including Fed chair nominee Janet Yellen and President Obama’s pick for Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson — unless it makes Benghazi survivors available to be interviewed by appropriate committees in Congress. A coalition of longtime advocates of a full Benghazi investigation is also demanding to see the FBI transcripts from the interviews conducted with the survivors some 48 hours after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack when they were flown to Germany.
Graham said he met with the State Department on Thursday “about my desire to talk to the five survivors, American personnel, State Department employees, American citizens, independent of the State Department’s Accountability Review Board. Nobody in Congress has got to talk to these people.”
“I released two ambassadors that I had a hold on, because we’re trying to work out a bipartisan way to interview these witnesses. Why? Oversight is important. I want to perform oversight,” he added. “I’m not trying to defend the British contractor. I want to hear from the people that worked for us, that are American citizens in harm’s way — what did you feel like when you were told nobody was coming to help you?”
But the holds in general remain until Congress gets access to the survivors, Graham said.
“The only reason is I’ve been trying for a year to get the interviews without holds. And you just can’t allow something this bad and this big of a national security failure, for the administration to investigate itself. I don’t want to hold anybody,” he said. “All I want to do is talk to the survivors, protecting their security, protecting their identity, to find out exactly what did happen.”