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Sen. Graham Holds Up Confirmations Over Benghazi Attack

Nov 15, 2013
Originally published on November 15, 2013 8:49 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Two of President Obama's most important nominations of his second term made some progress this week. Federal Reserve chair nominee Janet Yellin went before a Senate panel yesterday, and Jeh Johnson, nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security, was vetted on Wednesday. Their confirmation is expected by the full Senate, but that could take time.

Because South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has placed holds on them and dozens more nominees. A single senator is commonly allowed to prevent a vote on nominations. As NPR's David Welna reports, it's nothing personal - Graham's complaint concerns Benghazi.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: Graham says his holds will continue until the Obama Administration meets his demands. He wants to interview five State Department employees who witnessed the attacks in Benghazi, Libya last year that killed four other Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

He also wants to learn what they told the FBI days after the attack to see if they really did believe it was just a protest underway there, as administration officials said at the time, or if, in fact, they saw it as a planned attack.

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WELNA: That something, he added, was the truth about Benghazi. He cited a report that had aired three days earlier on CBS's "60 Minutes."

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WELNA: That "60 Minutes" report featured an on-camera conversation between reporter Lara Logan and a British State Department contractor she identified only by a pseudonym, Morgan Jones. He claimed to have fought off attackers at the Benghazi diplomatic post where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed.

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WELNA: But CBS retracted the entire report last weekend after other news organizations reported that Dylan Davies - the contractor's real name - told the FBI he was not at the compound the night of the attack. Graham says that shows why Congress also needs to review the FBI's files.

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WELNA: Graham is seeking reelection next year, and he's taken heat from conservatives for supporting the Senate's immigration bill. GOP political consultant Chip Felkel says Graham should expect a Republican primary.

CHIP FELKEL: I think he's got a race. I think he knows that. You've got four challengers, another one came out this past week. The question is whether or not any of those can build - make a credible case for replacing Graham.

WELNA: Felkel says Graham's focus on Benghazi plays well in South Carolina. Allen Olson is a conservative in Columbia, the state capital.

ALLEN OLSON: I'm all for it. We need answers on Benghazi.

WELNA: Answers Graham promises he'll get. David Welna, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.