Playing politics, getting burned

As the latest step in his efforts to politicize the embassy attack in Benghazi, Lindsay Graham this morning called for a Senate select committee on the matter. But what’s the real story here? Graham was recently revealed to have participated in the flawed and discredited 60 Minutes report, including relaying information from his conversation with a former FBI official as the story began to unravel. Graham touted the story on both television and social media and used it as an impetus to drive his own partisan agenda to block federal appointments and nominations and create this partisan select committee. When will Lindsey Graham come forward and provide a full, public accounting of his participation in this flawed report?

Watch the video.

Background

Graham met with Lara Logan multiple times to consult on 60 Minutes segment. “Benghazi had been thoroughly politicized from the beginning. But rather than steering clear of the political battle, Logan headed right toward it, consulting with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a strong critic of the administration’s handling of the incident whom she’d met once in Afghanistan. ‘I really didn’t know her until she started doing this piece on Benghazi,’ he told me. The two met two or three times to talk about the Libya attack, with Graham telling Logan that from his point of view, it was ‘a fair thing to say’ that there was a ‘build-up of Al Qaeda types’ in the area—a major talking point for the right in arguments that the Obama White House tried covering up alleged terrorist links.” [New York Magazine, 5/4/14]

CBS pulled 60 Minutes piece after it was revealed their source gave conflicting account to the FBI. Lara Logan apologetically explained on CBS This Morning, “Well, Dylan Davies worked for the State Department in Libya. He was the manager of the local guard force at the Benghazi special mission compound, and he described for us his actions that night, saying that he had entered the compound and he had a confrontation with one of the attackers, and he also said that he had seen the body of Ambassador Chris Stevens in a local hospital. And after our report aired, questions were raised about whether his account was real. After an incident report surfaced that told a different story about what he’d done that night. And, you know, he denied that report. And he said that he told the FBI the same story that he had told us, but what we now know is that he told the FBI a different story to what he told us. And, you know, that was the moment for us when we realized that we no longer had confidence in our source, and that we were wrong to put him on air, and we apologize to our viewers.” [Logan interview, CBS This Morning, 11/8/13]

Graham said he was blocking nominees as leverage to push the administration “to reconcile how their story about Benghazi was so different than the 60 Minutes report.” “I’m not going to let this whole chapter close without having talked to the people in Benghazi who went through this living hell and pushed the administration to reconcile how their story about Benghazi was so different than the ‘60 Minutes’ report that identified Al Qaida terrorists and named them, by name, that it was a pre-planned, coordinated attack. This is a big deal. We haven’t gotten the truth. And the only leverage I have is to insist upon this information being released by stopping nominations.” [CNN, 10/31/13]

Graham, the morning after 60 Minutes aired: “I’m going to block every appointment in the U.S. Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress. I’m tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books.” “And where are the survivors? Fourteen months later, Steve, the survivors — the people who survived the attack in Benghazi — have not been made available to the U.S. Congress for oversight purposes. So I’m going to block every appointment in the U.S. Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress. I’m tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books. We need to get to the bottom of this.” [Fox & Friends, 10/28/13]

Headline: “Poll: Sen. Lindsey Graham’s 2014 re-election chances uncertain.” “South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham may be in for a bumpy ride in his bid to secure a third term in November 2014, a new poll suggests. The Clemson University poll released Wednesday found that Mr. Graham enjoys far more tepid support among his fellow Republicans than other state GOP leaders, even as he faces a competitive primary against a trio of conservative challengers. Poll author David Woodard, a Clemson political scientist, found that just 53 percent of the 500 Republicans surveyed hold a favorable view of Mr. Graham, compared to 36 percent who had an unfavorable view.” [“Poll: Sen. Lindsey Graham’s 2014 re-election chances uncertain,” Washington Times, 9/25/13]

At the time, Graham was accused of using Benghazi to revive his flagging poll numbers. “Lindsey Graham, like John Boehner and the House Republicans before him, is threatening to essentially shut down part of government so he can defend himself from a Tea Party backlash. Recent polling found only 53 percent of South Carolina Republicans have a favorable view of Graham. For some context, Graham`s unfavorables in the state are 30 points higher than its fellow Senate Republican Tim Scott. Needing to turn around his numbers, Graham is turning back to Benghazi.” [Chris Hayes, MSNBC, 10/28/13]

More recently, Graham manipulated House Committee assignments to fend off a primary challenge. “Rep. Mick Mulvaney was thought to be a credible challenger in the June 10 primary, until Graham inspired House leaders to give Mulvaney a seat on the House Financial Services Committee. Mulvaney opted against challenging the two-term senator.” [Associate Press, 5/4/14]

Sources led 60 Minutes to believe Davies’ account to 60 Minutes was in sync with his account to the FBI. “[CBS News executive Jeff] Fager said CBS had made extensive efforts to determine what Mr. Davies told the F.B.I. He said the network had sources who led the program to believe that the report was ‘in sync’ with the account Mr. Davies gave to ‘60 Minutes.” [New York Times, 11/8/13]

When Logan called Graham for help he relayed information to her from the FBI. “At one point, Logan called Graham and asked for help. ‘She called afterward and basically said, ‘What did he tell the FBI?’ ’ he recalls. ‘I’ve never seen the FBI interview, but I talked to the No. 2, who is now gone, and he said that he’s looked at the interviews and the guy never mentioned this.’” [New York Magazine, 5/4/14]