My interview with Senator McCain from today’s program:
HH: I begin, however, with a story front and center in America’s consciousness, what happened in Benghazi. Joining me to discuss that, United States Senate John McCain. Senator, it is always a pleasure, thanks for coming back on.
JM: Hugh, I’m always glad to be with you, and thanks for continuing to inform America.
HH: Senator, earlier today, the President appeared on Morning Joe. I want to play for you that, and then get your reaction to what he had to say.
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MB: Why has it been so easy for critics to say the administration does not have its story straight on Benghazi?
BO: Well look, the fact of the matter is that this is a tragedy. There’s all kinds of legitimate questions to ask, because any time a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans who are serving our country get killed, you know, we’ve got to figure out what happened and fix it. And most importantly, we’ve got to bring those folks who carried that out to justice. That’s exactly what we’re going to do. But I do take offense, as I’ve said during one of the debates, with some suggestion that you know, in any way we haven’t tried to make sure that the American people knew as information was coming in what we believed happened. And…
JS: Was it the intel community giving you bad information early on, because that’s…the stories keep changing.
BO: Well, that’s what we’re going to find out from the investigation. But the truth is that you know, across the board, when this happened, my number one priority was secure Americans, figure out what happened, bring those folks to justice. We are in the process of doing that right now Congress has been getting the flow of information continuously from day one, and what my attitude on this is, is if we find out that there was a big breakdown and somebody didn’t do their job, they’ll be held accountable. Ultimately, as commander-in-chief, I’m responsible, and I don’t shy away from that responsibility. My number one responsibility is to go after folks who did this, and we’re going to make sure that we get them. I’ve got a pretty good track record in doing that.
HH: Senator, your reaction?
JM: Well, I don’t know where to begin, but first of all, to say I take offense at his statement. I take offense, and every veteran who’s ever served this country take offense at that statement of his, because there is no doubt that this is either a massive cover-up or gross incompetence on the part of the president of the United States. There were ample warnings ahead of time. There was two attacks on our consulate in Benghazi, one in April and one in June. The British ambassador, there was an attempt to assassinate him in Benghazi. The British consulate was closed. The Red Cross left. From our Lt. Col. Woods, there was request after request for security. Why didn’t the president of the United States know about what was happening in the deteriorating situation in Benghazi as al Qaeda-affiliated groups moved in? Then, of course, a seven hour firefight. A seven hour fight, and we’ve got forces all over that region. On September 11th, why didn’t we have forces on alert? Why couldn’t we get people there? A couple of these brave Americans were murdered in the last hour or so. And then, the massive cover-up – does the President really think that we don’t know that he came out for days and days afterwards saying that this was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video? By the way, Hugh, one thing about continuous flow of information? He gave us everything after they got bin Laden, right, including betraying people’s very lives in their eagerness to give us all the details. There was surveillance cameras throughout the consulate in Benghazi. So the FBI finally got in there. Do you know where those recordings are kept now?
JM: Top secret.
JM: Top secret. Is that a [flow] of info? Why, Mr. President, did you send out Susan rice, your ambassador, to say that this was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by the hateful ? Why did you, Mr. President, on Letterman, why did you, to the United Nations, say that same thing when everybody knew that was wrong? That was absolutely false. So the president of the United States either out of stupidity or willing desire to deceive the American people continued this absolute falsehood about a spontaneous demonstration. There was none. And by the way, can I just say…
HH: Go ahead, Senator.
JM: Those tapes that are now top secret? They will show you there was no spontaneous demonstration. Go ahead, Hugh.
HH: Now Senator, you’ve got the reputation for straight talk. The President talks over people who ask him questions, he does not answer those questions that are asked, and I believe, he just said, you’ve got all the information you need.
JM: Well, Lindsey Graham and I, and Kelly Ayotte, and others, including many others, we have asked questions since, well, the first time we asked was October the 9th. We have not heard one word from Mr. Clapper, the head, the director of the National Intelligence, from General Petraeus, the head of the CIA, or Mr. Brennan, who is the head of counterterrorism in the White House. They have refused to give us a single answer to questions like when did you know that this was a planned al Qaeda attack. Why weren’t there forces on alert on September 11th, in light of the early warnings? So many others, they have given us no answer. And by the way, he keeps saying they’re going to have an investigation? You don’t need an investigation to know that the president of the United States told people absolute falsehoods when he continued to say this was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video. There was nothing, nothing that showed that. If I sound angry to you, I knew Chris Stevens. I knew him well. I was in Benghazi with him during the fighting. I was in Tripoli with him at the time of elections. The last message he sent out, Hugh, was a request for, and his concern about the lack of security at the consulate in Benghazi.
HH: Given your profile, your anger, your questions, where is the media? Where is the Manhattan-Beltway media elite, Senator McCain?
JM: Well, you remember we spent weeks on this terrible scandal about yellowcake. You remember that one?
HH: Yes, yes.
JM: And Valerie Plame? I mean, that was a scandal that we had to stay on the mainstream media for weeks and months. I think it’s absolutely disgraceful. But I can tell you this, Hugh. Despite the mainstream media trying to ignore this, the story, I’ve been traveling all around the country for Mitt Romney, and I’m talking to a lot of veterans. And they’re mad. They’re mad as hell, because they know it. They know that this commander-in-chief is not fit to play that role, and to deceive the American people and our veterans, you can’t fool them.
HH: Do you think he’s involved in an active cover-up? Or is he simply being fed bad information by Axelrod, the Chicago gang, and his White House staff?
JM: I think that it’s either gross incompetence and his failure to find out in the barest details, or care. By the way, you remember, he talked about it in the Rose Garden, and left for Las Vegas.
JM: You know, I mean, that’s, it was another fundraiser there. But as I say, it is either willful deception or gross incompetence, neither of which qualify him to continue as commander-in-chief.
HH: Senator McCain, he said at the end there in that Morning Joe interview, I had a pretty good track record, spiking the football again, obviously referring to bin Laden. How do you react to that?
JM: I think, I’m glad you asked. We’re all grateful that he got bin Laden. But he used to have this line. He’s kind of dropped it, you know, that al Qaeda is on the run? Al Qaeda is everywhere. Al Qaeda is in Iraq doubled. There are al Qaeda training camps in Western Iraq. They’re all over North Africa. They are not infiltrating in large numbers into Syria. They have taken over Northern Mali. They have moved into Libya in a very big way. And we could have helped them secure their borders, but that’s time for another show. So al Qaeda is not only not on the run, they are back much stronger than ever. Nothing has changed as far as the Iranians achieving their goal of nuclear weapons. We’re leaving Afghanistan because the President just tells everybody we’re leaving. And by the way, you know a famous story, Hugh, of the Taliban prisoner and the American interrogator?
JM: And the Taliban prisoner says you’ve got the watches, we’ve got the time. And that’s what’s happening in Afghanistan. And finally, our relations with Israel, as you know, have, there are very few times when they have been worse. And we keep telling the Israelis not to attack, not telling the Iranians that we will be with Israel and draw red lines.
HH: Last question, Senator, if the majority goes back to the Republicans in the Senate, will there be an investigation that requires answers be given to all the questions that you’ve raised led by a United States Senate committee?
JM: I promise you as the person who would be the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I will not rest. And I will not rest, because the American people cannot be deceived like this. We are in a very dangerous world as you know, Hugh. You look all around the world, and you don’t have to have me describe it to you. But a far more dangerous world than we were in four years ago. And the American people deserve answers. The families of these four brave Americans deserve answers. And I promise you that we will achieve that.
HH: Senator, will you put Mr. Brennan and Mr. Clapper under oath with regards to these matters?
JM: Absolutely. I promise you that that will happen if we can get the majority. And I hope that our dear friends in Montana are listening. We need to win that race. Denny Rehberg is our candidate, right?
HH: Thank you. You bet. Senator John McCain, always a pleasure. Thank you, Senator.
End of interview.