Sen. Graham: This is a 'damning e-mail'

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 30, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Let's get reaction to all of this from one of the administration's leading critics on Benghazi, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

Senator, thanks for being here. Let's start with your reaction to this day and that news conference.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R – S.C.: Well, I think it's an insult to the intelligence of the American people and quite frankly, a disservice and disrespect to those who sacrifice their life in service of their country to suggest that goals in the e-mail had nothing to do with four dead Americans is offensive.

Let me read the third one. The goal, "To show that we will be resolute in bringing people who harm Americans to justice." Nobody else was killed except in Benghazi. So who were they trying to bring to justice if not the killers of the people in Benghazi? So this one line clearly indicates that they were worried about the deaths of four Americans and to suggest that this whole e-mail doesn't relate to the political problems associated with a failure in Benghazi is an affront to my intelligence and a disrespect to those who died.

BAIER: Was this e-mail classified and then declassified?

GRAHAM: This e-mail was requested back in August by subpoena from the House. It took a court case for us to get this. A lot of it was redacted. So now we know who was on the e-mail chain. It was the political shop.

They saw Benghazi as a political problem seven weeks before an election and they formed a political answer. The answer given about Benghazi by Susan Rice was the best available political answer and was disconnected from the facts. There was no protest caused by a video and we did not do all we could to secure facilities throughout the region, including Benghazi.

Benghazi was a death trap. They were successful. They got away with changing the narrative from a coordinated terrorist attack to a protest caused by hateful video.

BAIER: As you can imagine, you mentioned politics. There is some pushback from the other side. Tommy Vietor, the former NSC spokesman, who's on another channel. He said this today.


TOMMY VIETOR, FORMER NSC SPOKESMAN: Unfortunately, now we have another round of stories about basically nothing which is what the whole debate about the talking points has been all along. And speaking of political motives, Lindsey Graham is trying to fend off a Tea Party primary. That's why he seizes on this issue. It's an open joke of his up on Capitol Hill. People know why he's doing this. So, you know, there's certainly politics in all of this.


BAIER: Your response.

GRAHAM: My response is that if I'm doing something wrong for political reasons, I should have egg on my face and I should be punished by the people of South Carolina. If what he is saying is a bold-faced lie and that I'm correct that this administration hid the truth from the American people about a coordinated terrorist attack because they were more worried about the president's re-election than telling the truth to the American people about why four people died, they need to be held accountable.

BAIER: What's next?

GRAHAM: More witnesses and a new process. How can you close the books on Benghazi until you call Ben Rhodes. Let's call Ben Rhodes and have him explain this e-mail. If it wasn't about the four dead Americans, why did you mention we're going to bring those people to justice who harm Americans?

BAIER: And does Speaker Boehner, because of all of this, change his mind about an independent --


GRAHAM: I hope so. The House has done generally a good job, but the process has been disjointed. I'm tired of five-minute rounds of questioning where members of Congress spent four minutes giving speeches.  I want a joint select committee so we can look at the CIA, the State Department and DOD as one unit and I want a professional investigative team to get to the bottom of this.

BAIER: When you hear the critics, not only Democrats, there are some Republicans who say, OK, enough is enough. It's time to move on. We've got -- they've been up there. They have answered all kinds of our questions and we didn't get what we wanted to get. How do you respond to that? What is the end game here on this particular effort?

GRAHAM: Eighteen months after the attack not one person has been captured responsible for killing the dead Americans. Eighteen months after the attack we finally get an e-mail that shows the White House created a narrative completely different than the intelligence. There was no intelligence about a video. There was no CIA report blaming the video causing a protest. We now have the smoking gun.

So I would tell the American people 18 months later, we're finally getting to the truth and thank God for an independent judiciary because this is a damning e-mail and it were not for a court you would never know about this, to the American people, 61 percent believe they are being misled. This is proof positive that right after the attack, three days after the attack, they did not give a damn about the intelligence.

They wanted to create a political narrative to protect the president and I think most Americans find that offensive and I'm not going to stop until somebody is held accountable for allowing it to be a death trap, somebody be fired for not coming to the aid of these people for nine and a half hours, and somebody ought to be fired for lying to the American people and I don't believe Ben Rhodes did this by himself.

Somebody in the White House, higher up than him in my view concocted this story because they were worried about the re-election, not telling the truth, and when Susan Rice said, I have no regrets, I gave the American people the best evidence available, that's a bald-faced lie.

BAIER: The politics here, does it affect Republicans to continue down this road?

GRAHAM: You know, when I wanted to get to the bottom of Gitmo, I was a hero. When I challenged the torture policies of the Bush administration because I've been a military lawyer, I was doing the country a service.  You've got Americans in harm's way as I speak tonight. Many of them in uniform and throughout the foreign service feel like that they have been let down by their government and the colleagues that serve their country that their death has been dishonored.

And what happened was distorted for political reasons. If for no other reason somebody needs to be held accountable about lying, about those who died, what does it matter, Senator Clinton, Secretary Clinton? Excuse me. The difference between a coordinated terrorist attack that you should have planned for, closing the consulate rather than keeping it open does matter.

The difference between a spontaneous event and a rise of terrorism, a broader foreign policy failure is substantial. You cannot let these people get away with this, any more than you can let Richard Nixon get away with what he did.

BAIER: Senator Graham, thanks for coming in.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

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