(WASHINGTON) — Three Republican Senators are at the helm of a movement to stand strong in their intent to combat President Obama on the two issues that currently stand at the forefront of the political media scene.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. have called for the establishment of a Watergate-style select congressional committee to investigate the administration’s handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
“We believe the complexity and the gravity of this matter warrant the establishment of a temporary select committee that can conduct an integrated review of the many national security issues involved,” McCain said today.
The three lawmakers called for former CIA director Gen. Petraeus as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify before the committee, if the Senate approves its formation. They intend to probe “all the way up to the President of the United States.”
Now intrinsic in this investigation, the Senators admitted, is the Gen. Petraeus affair that is muddled in with the details of what went wrong in Libya. Sen. Graham said while the scandal grows “weirder by the day,” he hopes that an investigation can separate the two growing issues: what went wrong in Libya and Petraeus’ affair.
“There’s the weird and the strange and the human failings in one camp and there is the legitimate question about national security being breached in the other camp,” Graham said, “so we can separate out the weird from the national security.” But almost correcting himself immediately after, he noted that “there is beginning to be a national security component of the human failings that I want to know about.”
They introduced a resolution on Wednesday afternoon on the Senate floor that would establish this committee. It would need to be acted upon by the Senate to be enacted. Asked today if he’d be in support of such a committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said no.
The Republican Senators said the committee is necessary to streamline information coming in between Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Armed Services committees who are all looking for answers on what happened in the attack.
“Conspiracy theories are running rampant,” Graham noted, “a segmented stovepipe investigation where you have three different committees going off in three different direction, not comparing notes, not being able to do this in an organized fashion is going to lead to failure….I think finding the truth about Benghazi is only possible if you combine the resources of these three committees.”
McCain and Graham also pledged to block any appointment of Susan Rice, a potential Secretary of State nominee, over her role in explaining the aftermath of the Sept. 11th attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Obama has not yet nominated Rice, but she is considered a frontrunner for the post. This statement drew a sharp rebuke from the President at his Wednesday press conference.
“If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me,” said Obama. “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.”
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