Lindsey Graham Threatens Hold On Hagel, Brennan Nominations Over Benghazi
South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham is threatening to place a hold on the nominations of Chuck Hagel and John Brennan unless the Administration provides more information about the September 11th, 2012 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi:
Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Sunday he’ll block President Barack Obama’s nominees for Defense secretary and CIA director if the White House isn’t more forthcoming about its response to the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“No confirmation without information,” the South Carolina Republican said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Graham said he wants to know if Obama himself phoned his Libyan counterparts during the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi and what the results of such a call might have been. Without cooperation, Graham said he’ll try to put a hold on Chuck Hagel, the Defense nominee, and John Brennan for CIA.
“I don’t think we should allow Brennan to go forward to the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed for secretary of Defense, until the White House gives us an accounting,” Graham said. “Did the president even pick up the phone and call anyone in the Libyan government to help these folks?”
“Did the president at any time during this eight-hour attack, pick up the phone and call anybody in Libya to get help for these folks?” Graham asked. “Secretary [Hillary] Clinton said she was screaming on the phone at Libyan officials. There’s no voice in the world like that of the president of the United States. And I do believe if he had picked up the phone and called the Libyan government, these folks could have gotten out of the airport, to the annex and the last two guys may very well be alive and if he did call the Libyan officials and they sort of blew him off, that would effect whether or not I would give foreign aid in the future to Libya. But if he failed to call on behalf of those people under siege, then I think that’s a massive failure of leadership by our commander in chief.”
Graham’s threat to place a hold will only really have consequence if his fellow Republicans, most specifically including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, go along with him. If they don’t, then his objections will be essentially moot. If they do, then the only way the Senate will be able to proceed on these nominations is by succeeding on a cloture vote as if a filibuster were in place. As I’ve already noted, though, there already appear to be at least 60 votes in favor of invoking cloture on Hagel’s nomination at the very least.
More broadly, two points come to mind. First, with Graham up for re-election in 2014 and facing the prospect of a challenge from the right in the Republican Primary it’s not surprising to see him latching on the the conservative cause du jour that Benghazi has become. After becoming associated with immigration reform so much that conservatives routinely call him “Lindsey Grahamnesty,” he needs to find a way to get back in their good graces and pounding the table incoherently over what conservatives are convinced is the latest Obama scandal is a pretty darn good way to do it. Secondly, once again, as if the hearing itself weren’t bad enough, we see yet again just how incoherent Republican foreign policy has become lately. There’s really nothing that Hagel has said, now or in the past, that’s inconsistent with what used to be mainstream GOP foreign policy. The fact that it’s now reason for someone to be persona non grata says a lot about the state of the part.