Senator Graham joined me today to discuss the Benghazi hearings:
HH: Perhaps next to the members of the Benghazi Select Committee, the individual on Capitol Hill who knows more about the Benghazi attacks is United States Senator Lindsey Graham. He’s been watching these hearings as they unfold, and I wonder, Senator Graham, what strikes you as the most significant exchanges in your mind?
LG: Well, the fact that there’s an email from Hillary Clinton from September the 12th understanding or stating that we know it wasn’t a protest caused by a video, it was a terrorist attack. I don’t know how, in light of that statement, she could have told the families a couple of days later we’re going to get the guy who made that video. It’s pretty clear to me that after the attack, the Obama administration was worried about the narrative that al Qaeda has been decimated and on the run, in light of Benghazi, that if the truth had come out that this was a coordinated terrorist attack, it would hurt the President’s reelection. I think his political team, and I think the people at the State Department, all conspired to mislead the American people about the true nature of the attack, because they were worried about the President’s reelection. That’s what I think happened.
HH: We agree, and I believe it is a smoking gun. Do you believe it rises to that level?
LG: Yes, but it also helps explain what happened before. You know, there was a meeting with the entire Senate of Brennan and Clinton and a few others shortly after the attack. The storyline they told me about Benghazi raised red flags. I turned to Mark Pryor and said this is a bunch of B.S. Number one, why was Susan Rice on television five days after the attack explaining what happened in Benghazi? She had no responsibility for Benghazi. Where was Hillary Clinton? Why did Susan Rice say the consulate was substantially, strongly and significantly secured? Who told her that? And clearly, it wasn’t. So here’s what I think. I think all these security requests were denied, because they did not want to create an impression that things were deteriorating in Libya. They didn’t want to have a Blackwater compound, heavy footprint like Bush. The light footprint approach that was the policy of the Obama administration to reinforce the consulate would have destroyed the narrative about al Qaeda being on the run. So I think the reason they were never reinforced, they were never given additional security, is because the political narrative would have been destroyed if they had reinforced the compound.
HH: Now throughout today’s hearing, Senator Clinton and former Secretary of State Clinton had adopted a physical pose, her hand on her face looking bored, distracted, even contemptuous. Is this rehearsed, in your view, Senator Graham?
LG: Absolutely. I think what she’s trying to do is marginalize the hearings through body language. Mr. Cummings is trying to interrupt the flow of the hearings. Here’s what’s devastating. It’s pretty clear that the deteriorating security situation in 2012 had to be known by the Secretary of State. The British withdrew from Benghazi. Are you telling me she didn’t know the British withdrew? So the reason all these security requests were denied, in my view, is that they cared more about the President’s reelection, continuing the narrative that terrorism was on the run. That’s why there was no security request granted, and that’s why they misled the public after the attack. This is two months, you’ve got to remember, before the election. But yes, she’s trying to undercut the impact of this hearing by body language. The Democrats are trying to interrupt the flow. But Trey Gowdy and his colleagues have done a hell of a good job. Look what they’ve found that no one else has found.
HH: Oh, let me play a couple of clips here. Here is Congressman Mike Pompeo:
MP: Do you know how many security requests there were in the 1st quarter of 2012?
HRC: For everyone or for Benghazi?
MP: For, I’m sorry, yes, ma’am, related to Benghazi and Libya. Do you know how many there were?
HRC: No, I do not know.
MP: Ma’am, there were just over a hundred-plus. In the 2nd quarter, do you know how many there were?
HRC: No, I do not.
MP: Ma’am, there were 172ish. Might have been 171 or 173. That’s…how many were there in July and August, and then that week and a few days before the attacks, do you know?
HRC: There were a number of them. I know that.
MP: Yes, ma’am, 83, by our count. That’s over 600 requests.
HH: 600 total requests, and here’s Jim Jordan:
JJ: In that email you sent to your family, here’s what you said at 11:00 that night, approximately one hour after you told the American people it was a video, you say to your family two officers were killed today in Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group. So you tell the American people one thing, you tell your family an entirely different story. Also, on the night of the attack, you had a call with the president of Libya. Here’s what you said to him. Ansar al-Sharia is claiming responsibility. It’s interesting. Mr. Khattala, one of the guys arrested and charged, actually belonged to that group. And finally…
HH: So Senator Graham, these are, to me, the two takeaways…
HH: …that she had hundreds of requests for security that she did not act on, and as soon as it happened, she knew it was a terrorist attack.
LG: Well, number one, either she’s completely incompetent as Secretary of State not to realize that her people are in danger over time, that the security environment in Benghazi was deteriorating not only for us, but for the British and the Red Cross. So if she didn’t know about this, she’s completely checked out of her job and not fit to be commander-in-chief. If she did know and they were turned down, there’s got to be a reason. Here’s why I think the security requests were denied. It was the policy of the Obama administration that we’re not going to be like Bush. We’re going to allow local people, we’re not going to have militarized compounds. We’re going to prove that leading from behind works. And to reinforce these compounds, to answer their requests, would destroy the narrative they were trying to tell the American people that al Qaeda had been decimated, on the run. That’s what I believe happened. I believe that she knew. I believe the State Department people knew. And the reason they turned down these security requests, they were worried about the President’s reelection, and the storyline that al Qaeda had been decimated on his watch. I really believe that.
HH: I agree with you. I am curious, though, of what you think the impact of this theater is, because the Secretary of State, the former Secretary of State, continues to mock the committee and to use the body language that I talked about earlier. Is that effective in this day and age when everyone can see it?
LG: I think that she’s trying to show disdain through body language. All this is rehearsed. All of this is coached. She is looking bored. She’s actually internally probably worried to death. At the end of the day, Trey Gowdy and his committee have found emails that no one else found. The fact that she could say this was a complete investigation before Trey Gowdy came along was a joke. We now know that Chris Stevens was begging for additional security beyond what the cables show. So here’s what I think. If you get the right person in the ring with her in the 2016 contest, they can wear her out over Benghazi, because here’s what I would ask her. So you’re telling me as Secretary of State you had no idea about the deteriorating security in Libya? You had no idea that your people were begging for additional security, but the al Qaeda flag is flying all over Benghazi?
HH: Hold that thought, Senator Graham, I’ll be right back with Lindsey Graham on today’s explosive hearings with former Secretary of State Clinton. Stay tuned, America.
— – – – – –
HH: I wanted to ask you one thing, Senator Graham…
HH: …which you alluded to at the close of our last segment. Democrats, Elijah Cummings and others, have said again and again and again there have been eight investigations, the ARB, over and over again. Not one of those investigations had access to A) the smoking gun memo that we talked about in the last segment.
HH: None of them had access to these emails, and did not have knowledge of the secret server. How in the world can anyone with a straight face argue that any of those investigations are worth anything?
LG: They can’t, and there will never be a complete investigation of Benghazi until Susan Rice is called as a witness. I want to know why five days after the attack, she said there’s no evidence of a coordinated terrorist attack, the consulate was strongly, significantly and substantially secured. I want to know who told her that, why she said what she did. You will never know the truth about Benghazi until she is called to testify under oath.
HH: Does this remain an issue in the 2016 campaign, whether or not Lindsey Graham is the nominee?
LG: This remains an issue. She’s asking to be promoted. So what I want the public to understand is that as Secretary of State, she was as close as she’s ever been to be commander-in-chief. It was her job, not Susan Rice’s job, to protect her people. She allowed the security to deteriorate to the fact that these people were in a death trap. She said, you can’t, you know, operate out of bunkers, but do you really have to operate out of a death trap? I think this really does show that she is not ready to be commander-in-chief, because she let her people go into a death trap. And when they needed her, she wasn’t there. And when it was over, she lied about what happened to them. I think those three things really are going to hurt her ability to prove that she’s capable of being commander-in-chief.
HH: Senator Lindsey Graham, thank you for joining me on a busy day, I appreciate it very, very much.
End of interview.