McCain to Obama: Release the names of Benghazi survivors

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 2, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, Republican senators demanding to know the names of the survivors of the Benghazi attack, and they are going straight to President Obama. Senator John McCain is leading the charge, along with Senators Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte.

Joining us is Senator John McCain. Good evening, sir.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: You sent a letter directly to the president. You want to know the names of the witnesses, those -- I assume you mean the people on the ground in Benghazi. Went out, I think, yesterday. Have you heard anything back from the White House?

MCCAIN: No, we haven't, Greta. But it was interesting, Mr. Carney saying that no information has been withheld from the Congress and the American people when we don't even know the names of the people who were evacuated from the consulate and taken to Germany and should have been debriefed immediately, and then any illusion about what kind of attack that was and what caused it, would have been dispensed with, and the -- then Ambassador Rice wouldn't have had to go on national television and say that this was a spontaneous demonstration sparked by a hateful video.

As Mr. Carney said, it's been a long time. And yes, it's been a long time, and we still haven't gotten answers to many questions, including who made up the talking points for Ambassador Rice to go on all national TV talk shows on that Sunday, one of which I was on and was stunned by her comments.

So -- and now we understand that the accountability review board that Secretary -- then Secretary Clinton convened is now being investigated by the inspector general about whether they were able to, or desired to, interview all people involved.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me -- let me talk about that for a second. I mean, the whole idea was in the very beginning that the White House didn't want to give out information, the State Department, because it was being interviewed -- or it was being investigated, outsourced to the accountability review board. That was the idea.

Now we're learning, apparently -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that the accountability review board didn't even talk directly to the witnesses, the people with the information. Is that what your understanding is?

MCCAIN: That's my understanding, that they didn't even talk directly to them. And at the same time, since we in Congress didn't know the names, we obviously didn't talk to them.

And again, they were taken out the next morning. They knew what happened. And you would think that one person at the CIA or one person at the White House would have picked up the phone and said, Hey, let me talk to one of these people who were in the fight and were taken to Ramstein, Germany, for treatment, so that they could give their depiction of what happened. And guess what? They didn't do that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I also find it a bit curious, is that, I -- you know, I understand the whole business about Ambassador Susan Rice going on all the talk shows and saying it was some video that had provoked this, but apparently, that they knew almost immediately -- they had a picture of a Tunisian, and apparently, they had these pictures that they're now releasing, the FBI is now releasing of people who were on the ground.

So they obviously knew as far as back as September. And you would think that we -- I mean, I don't understand why that information wasn't disseminated earlier, why they were dragging their feet.

MCCAIN: Well, I just -- I just don't understand why it took them eight months to release these pictures. I mean, that's another explanation that I think we should be -- we should be provided with.

But again, I also understand -- and these are all rumors, and I'm not positive, but we're hearing that people who were eyewitnesses to this, people who knew about whether we could have gotten there in time -- remember, two of these individuals were killed in the last hour of a seven- and-a-half-hour firefight -- that people are being bullied and intimidated and threatened and all that.

We don't know if that's true or false. I'm not saying it's true. But I am saying it's an argument for a select committee in Congress to investigate all of this, get to the bottom of it, and get it resolved.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's been dragging on since last September. But now, a new dimension. Vicky Toensing, a lawyer in Washington, is -- you know, is having a disagreement, to put it gently, with the State Department. I've posted all of it on GretaWire. People can see the different communications.

But she says that the spokesperson at the State Department, a man by the name of Ventrell, was incompetent or lying because he said that he knew of no attorney requests when he knew very well -- this is an email she wrote me tonight -- he knew very well that Congressman Issa had written two letters asking for a process to clear lawyers and DOS had not responded, and that he purposely mischaracterized it as attorney requests so he could then shoot it down, make her the straw person.

She then goes on to say it's not just possible Ventrell was mischaracterizing my statements, meaning hers, she says he did so with intent. So now you've got a lawyer saying that she's trying to get a clearance so that she can talk to her clients, look at classified, and essentially, she's saying that the State Department is standing in her way, and also mischaracterizing what she said, essentially making her out to be the liar, and she says she's not the liar.

MCCAIN: Well, you know, I don't know the details of that back-and-forth, but I think I would have a tendency to side with her in the respect that since the White House wouldn't even -- or the administration would not even give us the names of the people who were the survivors who were taken to Germany.

Now, the House, apparently, next week is going to have a hearing on this, and I hope that that clears up some of these questions. But one thing I'd like to mention. I am hearing from the families of these people, these four brave Americans who were killed. And I can assure you, they are not happy. And they do deserve answers.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does the president have the authority -- and I assume he does, but I'm going to ask you just to double-check. Does the president have the authority to order that the names of the witnesses, those people who were on the ground, be turned over to Congress so Congress can do its job, its congressional obligation to do oversight on this and investigate? Can the president do what you asked in that letter?

MCCAIN: Wouldn't that be just routine, Greta, when they said that they were going to cooperate completely with Congress? I mean, why should it even require presidential attention? I mean, it just -- it just would be natural, if they're cooperating, to say, Yes, these are the people and here's the people that were there and were in the action.

VAN SUSTEREN: What I don't understand, though, is throughout this whole thing is that I understand you can't subpoena the president, but I mean -- but -- and I realize you're in the minority party in the Senate. But for the life of me, I can't understand why -- why the House of Representatives wasn't more aggressive in trying to get information and issuing subpoenas and demanding people come to Capitol Hill with the information. I mean, I don't understand why the Republicans weren't more aggressive just to get the facts.

MCCAIN: Well, I hope you'll have Darrell Issa on, who has been handling this, and I think is having a hearing next Wednesday, I believe. I'm not positive about that. And I think he'll tell you of a lot of the efforts he's made, and Mike Rogers, as well. But I think it's pretty obvious in the Senate we haven't -- we haven't pursued it very vigorously.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think the president -- when the press conference and the president said that he didn't know anything about any efforts to try to interview the -- any -- any efforts to sort of block people from interviewing the survivors? What did you think about that?

MCCAIN: I think he's not -- either not well-briefed or should have been and should have been more involved in it because it's a little embarrassing when a president of the United States says something that really isn't very logical.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Greta.