Graham Threatens Hagel Confirmation Unless Panetta Testifies on Benghazi

Graham Threatens Hagel Confirmation Unless Panetta Testifies on Benghazi

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters on Tuesday he wants  “to hear Leon Panetta on Benghazi before we confirm the new defense secretary.” Graham did not say if he would vote against former Senator Chuck Hagel’s confirmation for defense secretary, but he did say he has “some real concerns about some of [Hagel’s] positions.”

“I don’t think Leon (Panetta) has objected to testify. I just don’t know when it’s going to be scheduled. I just don’t want to go forward until we find out what our secretary of defense did in response to Benghazi. He has to schedule it,” Graham said.

Before Senator John Kerry (D-MA) was confirmed as her successor on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified about the State Department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) report on Benghazi before both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. Critics say most GOP members on both committees did not ask Clinton particular questions pertaining to the U.S. government’s response during the attack.

Clinton told Senate committee members that the State Department did not interview Benghazi survivors immediately after they were evacuated, saying, “Getting (Benghazi survivors) into Frankfurt Ramstein to get taken care of, the FBI going over to immediately start talking to them–We did not think it was appropriate for us to talk to them before the FBI conducted their interviews.”

The FBI is remaining tight-lipped regarding its investigation on the Benghazi attack.

“We are not providing any information regarding the ongoing investigation,” said FBI spokeswoman Cathy Wright on Friday to Breitbart News. When asked if there was a time frame as to when the FBI plans to release any information, Wright responded, “Investigations don’t have timelines,” later adding, “I would refer you back to the secretary’s comments and we don’t have anything to add to (Sec. Clinton’s) comments.”

Senator Graham has asked for the FBI interviews of Benghazi survivors, but Wright only said that the FBI responds “appropriately” to members of Congress’s requests.

“I think Secretary Clinton did a very good job of avoiding answering questions,” said Graham.  

He added, “I hope we’ll actually ask questions (of Panetta) like, ‘What did you do and when did you do it?’ But these hearings are tough. Five minutes is pretty tough. And if you’re not used to asking questions and stopping people from filibustering, that can happen so but what she did say was quite stunning, frankly.”

When asked by Breitbart News why he thought the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not ask Clinton about the several hours Ambassador Stevens went missing during the attack on the U.S. compound, Graham responded, “This is why I want Leon Panetta here. Nobody asked her how many times did you talk to the president?  When did you talk to the president? Was it sometime that evening? “