Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday made clear that President Obama’s nominees to become the Chair of the Federal Reserve and Secretary of Homeland Security would be his latest hostages in his ongoing quest to unearth the “truth” about Benghazi.
Since the attack last year that ended in the death of four American citizens in Benghazi, Libya, Graham has been a stalwart crusader on the hunt to expose the supposed White House cover-up that he knows exists. On Monday, he indicated that a new push would be coming, warning on Fox News, “I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress.”
Graham followed through on Wednesday, announcing at a news conference that he would be placing a hold on Janet Yellen’s nomination to become the new Federal Reserve Chair and Jeh Johnson’s to replace Janet Napolitano at DHS. “That is the only leverage we have,” he told the assembled reporters. Yellen’s nomination is also being threatened by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) over different demands.
“Before you can close the books on Benghazi, I think Congress needs to look over the administration’s shoulder,” Graham told CNN on Thursday, “it’s called oversight.” Graham insisted that he’s “not asking for too much” in holding up the nominations. “Is it really too much for me to want to talk to the people who were in Benghazi independent of the administration?” he asked rhetorically, refusing to answer critiques asking if his Tea Party challengers had anything to do with the singular focus on the issue.
Despite the hold, Graham seems to like Johnson just fine. The former top Pentagon lawyer is “a really well-qualified guy,” Graham said, according to POLITICO. The holds also don’t apply to all Obama administration nominations. Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC), who is set to become head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, has already had cloture filed on his nomination. Two nominees to join the Federal Communications Commission are also in the clear as, Graham said, the nominations were in place before the Benghazi attacks took place.
As Media Matters points out, however, the crux of Graham’s demands have already been met. Two “key witnesses in last year’s terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, were summoned to Capitol Hill this month and grilled for hours in separate legal depositions,” the Los Angeles Times reported just days ago. The Department of Justice, however, has urged House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) to keep the interviews under wraps to prevent them from corrupting ongoing prosecution efforts.
When in the past Graham has opted to use this tactic, the results have not particularly come out in Graham’s favor. When he got his wish to have the names revealed of who deleted references to al Qaeda from then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice’s talking points in the days after the attack, the released emails showed clearly that the CIA itself was the one who did so, not the White House, thus debunking the right-wing myth that the changes were political. Likewise, when Graham demanded that then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Panetta took the opportunity to chide the SASC’s Republicans for treating the military like a 911 service and debunk many of the rumors about available military assistance at the time of the attack.