Graham: I will block all appointees until we get answers on Benghazi

October 28, 2013

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday that he will block every one of President Obama's nominees on the Senate floor until the administration discloses information about the survivors of last year's attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Graham's comments came the morning after CBS's "60 Minutes" aired a report Sunday night featuring a rare eyewitness to the attack — a former British soldier who used a pseudonym. One of the four Americans killed during the attack was the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.

Graham, a top critic of the administration's handling of the killings of four Americans in Benghazi, has accused the administration of telling the survivors not to talk about their experience.

Of the several dozen surviving diplomatic and security officials who were in Benghazi the night of the attack, all but one has returned to work in ongoing assignments. The State Department has said repeatedly that any non-security official who wants to talk to Congress about the experience is free to do so, but has protested, along with the Justice Department, attempts by congressional Republicans to subpoena security officials on grounds that it could compromise any testimony they might give at any future prosecution of the perpetrators.

Despite written administration appeals, Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee  subpoenaed two Diplomatic Security officials — one who was in Benghazi and another who was in Tripoli, the Libyan capital — who provided closed-door depositions to the committee this month.

Graham has previously threatened to block specific nominees while seeking information on Benghazi. A spokesman noted that Graham briefly blocked the nomination of John Brennan to serve as the next CIA director until the White House acknowledged that President Obama did not call anyone in Libya the night of the raid but spoke with the Libyan president the day after.

Graham’s announcement comes on the same day that the Senate is scheduled to hold a vote to confirm Richard Griffin as the top lawyer at the National Labor Relations Board and as Senate Democrats are expected to hold votes soon on several nominees to federal judgeships, including picks to serve on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Holding up votes on any position at the NLRB would be notable, because the White House withdrew the names of several picks this summer as part of a bipartisan deal to move forward with a series of confirmation votes and maintain the current rules of the Senate.

Update 12:36 p.m.: Here's Graham on Fox News talking about his strategy:

 

Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.

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Ed O'Keefe | October 28, 2013