POLITICS
11/23/2014 11:28 am ET Updated Nov 23, 2014

Jeff Flake Urges Republicans To Move On From Benghazi

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) thinks it's probably time for Republicans to drop their fixation on Benghazi.

The senator was asked during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday about the House Intelligence Committee's findings from its two-year investigation into the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi. The committee, which released its findings on Friday, concluded that there was no evidence that the Obama administration tried to cover up the deaths of the four Americans who died in that attack.

The report was a blow to Republican claims that the administration knowingly lied about what happened in Benghazi. Susan Rice, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been accused of deliberately misleading the American public when she appeared on the Sunday talk shows after the attack.

Flake said on Sunday that he thought Republicans needed to move on from the Benghazi issue.

"I always thought the biggest problem with Benghazi is how it was cast by the administration, and the remarks of Susan Rice just really flew in the face of what we knew was going on," he said. "But with regard to other things that were addressed by this report, yes, I've thought that for a long time we ought to move beyond that."

Although previous reports have also cleared Rice and the administration of deliberate wrongdoing, Friday's findings were significant because they came from a Republican-controlled committee in Congress.

The committee's report concluded that Rice's talking points, which portrayed the attack as being sparked over anger at an Internet video, were indeed inaccurate, but her comments were not a result of a cover-up attempt. The report stated that even days after Rice delivered the talking points on television, the CIA was still sorting out what had happened.

"Based on the testimony and the documents we reviewed, we concluded that all the CIA officers in Benghazi were heroes," said committee chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and ranking member Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) in a joint statement Friday. "Their actions saved lives."

But it doesn't seem like Republicans will be rushing to follow Flake's lead. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said during an interview Sunday with CNN's "State of the Union" that he didn't buy the committee's findings. Graham said the report was "full of crap."

"That's a bunch of garbage. That's a complete bunch of garbage," the senator said when host Gloria Borger pointed to the report's conclusion that no one in the administration had lied.

"Why is the Republican chairman on the House Intelligence Committee buying a bunch of garbage?" Borger asked in response.

"Good question," said Graham.

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