Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday pointed to the example set by Democrats who refused to confirm John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations when he was asked if he would be willing to back Ambassador Susan Rice as secretary of state.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Rice, Sens. Graham, John McCain (R-AZ) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) all seemed to escalate their opposition to the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations over her public assessment of September attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
“I’m more disturbed now than I was before that the 16 September explanation about how four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya by Ambassador Rice, I think, does not do justice to the reality at the time and in hindsight clearly was completely wrong,” Graham explained. “But here’s the key, in real time, it was a statement disconnected from reality. If anybody had been looking at the threats coming out of Benghazi, Libya it was jump-out-at-you that this was an al-Qaeda storm in the making.”
The South Carolina Republican added that he was “very disappointed in our intelligence community” but Rice should have known better than to suggest that the attacks could have been related to an anti-Muslim video.
When asked about the possibility of supporting Rice to be the next secretary of state, Graham insisted that she could not be confirmed until Congress was provided more information from the FBI investigation into the Benghazi attack.
“I remember the John Bolton episode pretty well,” he pointed out. “Our Democrat friends felt like John Bolton — they didn’t have the information needed to make an informed decision about Ambassador Bolton’s qualifications — John Bolton to be ambassador — and Democrats dug in their heels and said, ‘We’re not going to vote, we’re not going to consider this nomination until we get basic answers to our concerns.'”
“All I can tell you is that the concerns I have are greater today that they were before. We’re not even close to getting the basic answers.”
In 2005, President George W. Bush recess-appointed Bolton to the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations after Democrats filibustered the nomination because the White House refused to provide information about his mishandling of N.S.A documents and his questionable assessment of Syria’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.
“This is about partisan politics, not documents,” White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said at the time. “They have the information they need.”
After Bolton was forced to resign as ambassador, Graham opined that the Democrats’ filibuster “unfairly undermines President Bush’s prerogative to appoint his own people to his team.”
Watch this video from CNN’s Newsroom, broadcast Nov. 27, 2012.