Graham plan to block nominations over Benghazi picks up support

10/30/2013 8:42 PM

10/30/2013 8:46 PM

Five more Republicans, including Rep. Trey Gowdy, announced support Wednesday for Sen. Lindsey Graham’s plan to block presidential nominees until more witnesses to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack are interviewed by Congress.

Graham, R-S.C., first issued his plan Monday but the White House appeared unmoved, so he restated it at a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill.

“I will block all future nominees, not because I want to shut anything down, but because I want to open things up,” Graham said.

He was joined by Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Gowdy, R-Spartanburg.

The president’s picks for top executive and judicial branch jobs require Senate confirmation, and a single senator can delay such votes.

Graham has been a leading critic of the Obama administration’s response to the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Congress is investigating the complex’s lack of security, the absence of a military rescue effort and why administration officials initially mischaracterized the attack as a spontaneous protest as opposed to a coordinated attack by al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has privately interviewed one State Department security official based in Benghazi, and Gowdy participated in that interview.

But Graham said that’s not enough. The State Department witness was responding to a subpoena, and Congress has so far been blocked from reviewing FBI interviews with survivors 48 hours after the attack.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday the administration has provided testimony at 13 hearings, handed over 25,000 documents and participated in 40 staff briefings on Benghazi.

“The State Department has worked in good faith to meet the Hill’s many requests, and they will continue to review legitimate incoming requests. But let’s be clear that some Republicans are choosing to play politics with this for partisan purposes, and we find that unfortunate,” Carney said.

Graham, who normally shows more deference to Obama appointees than some of his Republican colleagues, said his inquiry into Benghazi is no different than his inquiries into the mistreatment of terrorist detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under former GOP President George W. Bush.

“We’re demanding action not because we’re Republicans but because the nation needs to know how these people died ... and why they were misled by an administration eight weeks before an election,” Graham said.

Gowdy said members of Congress need to hear directly from witnesses, not just read transcripts of someone else’s interviews.

“No one has been arrested, ... no one has been brought to justice,” Gowdy said.

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