Sen. Graham: I blame the president above all other

South Carolina senator speaks out on president's press conference


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," November 14, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST OF "HANNITY": So, after hiding out on the campaign trail for more than eight months, the president finally today found some time on its busy schedule to meet the press now for the first time since early March, he held a formal news conference. And to say this was long overdue, well, that would be an understatement. Because a lot has transpired since the last time the President found the courage to face his, well, suck-up friends in the mainstream media, from Benghazi to the resignation of a CIA director. There was certainly more questions than there were answers hiding into today's presser.

And that's where we begin tonight with the Petraeus scandal and whether or not the president believes that our national security was ever at risk as a result of the affair. Watch this.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: I have no evidence at this point, from what I have seen that classified information was disclosed, that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security. Obviously, there is an ongoing investigation. I don't want to comment on the specifics of the investigation.


HANNITY: All right. Here's the problem, Mr. President. Your administration has lost any and all credibility when it comes to investigating itself. And that includes Benghazi because on that matter, above all others, you simply cannot be trusted, which is exactly why GOP senators are now calling for the formation of a select committee to lead the Benghazi inquiry. Let's look at this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: I think if there was ever a time in recent history for the Congress to follow models that we have used in the past, it is Benghazi. Watergate investigation benefited from a joint select committee. Iran Contra benefited from a select committee. I think finding the truth about Benghazi is only possible if you combine the resources of these three committees.


HANNITY: Now, Senator Graham was also asked to respond to the rumor that Ambassador Susan Rice is being considered to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Now, needless to say, he wasn't too fond of that suggestion, considering Rice is the one who appeared on five Sunday shows, blaming the Benghazi attack on a YouTube video.


GRAHAM: This is about the role she played around four dead Americans when it seems to be that the story coming out of the administration and she's the point person, is so disconnected to reality, I don't trust her. And the reason I don't trust her is because I think she knew better. And if she didn't know better, she shouldn't be the voice of America. Somebody has got to start paying a price around this place. But I am dead set on making sure we don't promote anybody that was an essential player in the Benghazi debacle.


HANNITY: All right. It appears our president, Mr. Sensitive, took great offense to Senator Graham's critique. Now, take a look at his very angry response.


OBAMA: She made an appearance at the request of the White House, in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received and to besmirch her reputation, is outrageous.


HANNITY: Now, I hope you were paying very close attention there. Because as usual when the teleprompters are not scrolling the truth, well, that magically comes out. Now, what you just heard from the president for the first time, he admitted that Rice was sent on the Sunday shows, quote, "at the request of the White House."

Now, if that is in fact the case and if Susan Rice was following marching orders from the president himself, well, that means she went into battle armed with White House talking points. And what do those talking points say?

It appears they told her to ignore the intelligence committee because they knew within 24 hours that Al Qaeda was behind this strike. And instead of telling the truth, she repeatedly blamed the death of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans on this, quote, YouTube video. Now, why? Because that's what she was told to do. She was following orders. And it's becoming more and more clear where these orders are coming from. And it's also clear that the president lied when he said that this is one of the most critical moments at the 2012 presidential debates. Remember when he said the following?


OBAMA: The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened that this was an act of terror.


HANNITY: Well, obviously, that's not true because the president now admits he sent Rice on TV to blame the YouTube video. Now in a moment, Senator Graham will join me to respond directly to the president's challenge. But first, think about the exchange that we just witnessed and then ask yourself, where were the follow-ups from the media? They were nowhere to be found. Instead it was softball after softball, and so because the press, they failed once again to do their job. Here are some of the questions that should have been presented today, regarding Benghazi.

First, Mr. President, did you know Ambassador Stevens made multiple requests for additional security after the British ambassador and the Red Cross left, over fears for their security? Second, did you know that Charlene Lamb testified that the State Department was actually watching this attack in real-time? Third, why did they not tell you that this was a terror attack? After all, supposedly you're the commander in chief. And if they knew and the Libyan president knew, this has nothing to do with the YouTube video, then why couldn't you admit that to the American people?

Also, will you make the video and audiotapes that exist from the attack available to the American people? And also, lastly, who told the two Navy SEALs to stand down, was it you, did you deny requests for assistance that could have saved American lives?

Now, one day, we're going to find out the answer to all of these questions, Mr. President. And for that very reason, I'd be very careful, daring congressional investigators to look in your direction.

And joining me now to respond directly to the president's challenge is South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. Senator, welcome back to the program.

GRAHAM: Thank you. Those are good questions.

HANNITY: Well, they weren't asked today. So, I have more questions at the end of today than I do answers. Let's get your initial reaction to the presser today.

GRAHAM: Well, number one, I can't believe the president said that we sent someone out to explain Benghazi who had nothing to do with Benghazi. That's pretty stunning.


GRAHAM: Why did they pick her? If she had nothing to do with Benghazi. She's not in charge of conflict security. She works in the U.N. Why nobody from the State Department. I believe she's a close political ally of the president. She went on national TV, four or five days after the attack, when there is no credible information that the video scenario was real and she either through incompetence or an intentional effort to mislead the American people, tried to spin a story that would help the president because if it was true that this was an Al Qaeda attack, long-time in the making, that killed our ambassador and three other brave Americans, so much for the story, we killed bin Laden, Al Qaeda's on the run, being dismantled. So, I am going to hold her accountable. She volunteered for this assignment. She is either very incompetent when she came to explaining bin Laden or she was misleading. But the person I blame the most is the President.

HANNITY: Well, you said within 20 minutes of the President's press conference today, you have sent out a response. And you said, don't think, Mr. President, for one minute that I don't ultimately blame you responsible for this. I think you failed as commander-in-chief before, during and after the attack. I want you to give some details. Because there are so many un-answered questions here.

GRAHAM: OK, number one, I wrote the president weeks ago, Mr. President, were you informed that the April and June attack on consulate in Benghazi? In June, there was an IED attack on the consulate that blew a hole in the wall that 40 people could get through. Were you informed that the British decided to close their consulate because the British ambassador was attacked by Al Qaeda militia? Were you informed that the Red Cross closed the place?

I blame the President above all others because I can't believe it's impossible that he was not told by his people about the June attack. Can you imagine the President of the United States going out in public, being asked by a reporter, what do you think happened in Benghazi yesterday and he says, I don't know what you are talking about?

So, I blame the President for leaving the consulate open in a fashion that it became a death trap. He should have closed the consulate or heavily reinforced it. Once the attack occurred in April and in June, I blame the President above all others.

HANNITY: You know, Senator, I am a little sick and tired of the media's fixation on the sex scandal part of this. And in part because they mischaracterize our military. Because all right, certainly what happened was wrong. But we don't take into account, I mean, General Petraeus put his life on his line for his country and got shot in the process at one point and risked his life. And I think they have focused on that. My question to you is, you know, we also have a report, the only Paula Broadwell question I have -- two of them, actually. Was this CIA annex actually a detention, interrogation site as she suggested? She seemed confident when she said it.

GRAHAM: Well, I tell you, everything you said about General Petraeus is true. We were losing in Iraq, he turned it around. He got us back on good footing in Afghanistan that the President I think has made poor decisions regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, in spite of great military leadership. But General Petraeus supposedly told members of the House Intelligence and Senate Intelligence Committee a couple of days after the attack, that he thought it was the result of the video. He needs to testify. Secretary Clinton needs to testify.

In August 15, Ambassador Stevens sent a cable from Libya to the State Department, to Secretary Clinton saying, we have identified 10 militia groups associated with Al Qaeda in Benghazi, they are all over the place. And if there is a coordinated attack, we can't defend the consulate. So she needs to account for why she did not grant the security request.


GRAHAM: We need to hear from all of these people. But the way the Congress is doing it, they are going to fall through the cracks.

HANNITY: Well, I want to follow up on that. Because I think this is very, very key here. Because you are suggesting, the House and Senate organized the hearings in the right way, otherwise, we are never going to get to the truth. Explain that. Because it seem to make sense to me.

GRAHAM: OK. The State Department needs to answer for how the consulate was so unsecured for so long. Do you agree with that?


GRAHAM: The Department of Defense needs to answer for the fact that for eight hours, we couldn't help this poor people. Do you agree with that?

HANNITY: Yes. I love being interrogated. I'm not being under oath. But, yes.

GRAHAM: Well, the CIA needs to answer for about 10,000 things.


GRAHAM: How in the world can you get to the truth if you got three or four committees going off in separate directions? Have a select committee. The House needs to lead on this issue. Put a committee together, the relevant committees to ask the same questions of the same people, so you can compare answers. What Harry Reid is proposing is going to allow this thing to fall apart, and we'll never get to the truth.

HANNITY: And we need the right people on those committees. People like Jason Chaffetz.

GRAHAM: Jason Chaffetz. Oh, my God, God bless Jason and the House Oversight Committee. I hope Boehner and Cantor will not make the mistakes that we are making in the Senate.

HANNITY: All right.

GRAHAM: Put together a committee of people. Know what they're doing. Look at it as a group, rather than a stovepipe approach and we will get to the truth. We deserve the truth. I have nothing against anybody, but do I have a desire to get to the truth. And I am going to hold this president accountable, Susan Rice and others for I think is a National Security breakdown of monumental proportions.

HANNITY: All right. Senator, we're going to continue to follow it. It is a massive scandal. We have not gotten a lot of answers today.

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