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The Daily Rundown
updated 5/8/2013 2:50:29 PM ET 2013-05-08T18:50:29

Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says he's comfortable the facts are already out on last year's terrorist attack in Benghazi.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday he is comfortable that the facts are out regarding the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya last September 11. Some Republicans have used the phrase “cover-up” when describing the Obama Administration’s actions after the attack.

“I’ve been able to read all of the cables, I’ve seen the films—I feel like I know what happened in Benghazi. I’m fairly satisfied,” Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said on Wednesday’s The Daily Rundown. “But if the House wants to have hearings…hopefully, it will shed some light on what happened.”

That’s a far cry from what other top Republicans have said, including House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California. Issa said the public was “deliberately misled,” on the events surrounding the Benghazi attack which left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador.

On Morning Joe on Wednesday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina alleged that the truth had been deliberately obscured then because of the upcoming presidential election.

“There was an effort by some senior people to put a political spin on this rather than tell the story that it was a terrorist attack from the get-go because it was so close to the election,” said Graham.

The House Oversight Committee hears testimony Wednesday from State Department witnesses to the Benghazi attack.

Video: House begins hearings into Benghazi attacks

  1. Closed captioning of: House begins hearings into Benghazi attacks

    >>> we want to make sure that we have the best analysis possible. we want to make sure that we are acting deliberately, but i would just point out that there have been several instances during the course of my presidency where i said i was going to do something and it ended up get getting done. whether it was bin laden or gadhafi , when we say we're taking a position, i would think at this point, the international community has a pretty good sense we typically follow through on our commitments.

    >> president obama defending the red line comments and also making it clear he's not going to be rushed to do a decision about the next movement in syria . secretary of state john kerry was in moscow tuesday and announced plans for an international conference on syria that could take place possibly within weeks.

    >> we have agreed to use our good offices, both of us, to bring both sides to the table working with our other coalition partners and other allies to bring both sides to the table in partnership with and concern for foreign countries that have committed themselves to helping the syrians find a political solution.

    >> with me now is tennessee senator, bob corker , the top republican on the foreign relations committee . senator corker, good morning to you.

    >> morning, chuck.

    >> i want to start with what you heard secretary kerry announce, that russia and the united states would hold a joint conference about what to do about assad . is that a correct next step?

    >> i think it's a positive development. there's no question that russia 's support of assad is most important at present and our desire to see assad leave, also have a secular moderate group in charge when he leaves. we need to be focusing on the day after. i think it's a good development and i'm happy to see it take place.

    >> and your reaction to the president's comments yesterday, where he says the facts about the chemical weapons are not yet known, so therefore, you've got to wait before deciding whether his red line and chemical weapons was crossed. do you accept the president's explanation on that?

    >> i think it's fine to be cautious and understand the chain of custody, how widespread it was utilized. on the other hand, i think we need to press ahead and move quickly to change the balance on the ground. i wrote an op-ed "the new york times" a couple of weeks ago talking about the fact that it's now the second war that's far more important to our national interest . assad was important, but it's very important to our nation that some of these extremist groups represented by al nusra, affiliated with al-qaeda, don't end up in control of the country, so we've got to help the more moderate groups and i do think we will be arming them soon. i think also though these moderate, secular, opposition groups which are not good fighters, not good at delivering humanitarian aid , and we need to help them with that, but they need to be reaching out to the population that supports assad . if russia sees that happening, we have a much better chance of getting them more actively involved with us.

    >> i want to switch gears a little bit to benghazi in this respect. the house hearing today seems to be, it's getting caught up in washington politics. that's not surprising. that happens, but i want to play for you something lindsey graham just said about an hour ago on " morning joe " about what he thinks should thinks shoeb the focus of the benghazi investigation.

    >> i think a foreign policy gone wrong here. syria , libya , egypt. i think the greater story is that the light footprint approach to the mideast in a time of turmoil is not working.

    >> you think there's a misplaced focus and it may explain what's going on with syria , that the real question is what was the policy in libya when we got rid of gadhafi , did he not have a plan in place to rebuild that country and is that having an im impact on syria policy.

    >> i think the thing that jumps out at you, it's a country that isn't really being governed. militias control most of the country. training, helping more with security, i don't want to see boots on the ground in syria . that's not the kind of footprint i want to see happening. but i do think as i mention eed earler, we need to be more involved in helping the secular opposition groups be trained and the arming now is more symbolic, but there's no question that look, in libya , we got involved. i thought that was question bable. i really did, but we got involved, took gadhafi out. i think it sent signals to a lot f people about doing away with weapons of mass destruction , which is a whole other topic, but then we sort of left it there. it's a country that you know, it's remarkable that the citizens are even functioning in a normal way because the government is not. so i do think there's a role for us to play in helping shape the feature. again, not military boots on the ground , but we've got to help them i involve and i don't think we've done near enough in syria at present. i think we're doing more than people raeealize, but it's still not enough. i'm not even for the air issues people are talking about, but we've got to help these areas a little more. we can't just leave them in a vacuum because the more extremist groups take over.

    >> what is the unanswered question that you feel like you want out of these meetings?

    >> i've got so much on this end of the building that i really hadn't focused much on the house. there were four individuals involved. they've been reprimanded. they're sitting at home with full pay. there are four state department officials that candidly, there's been no accountability and i just don't think it bodes well to make mistakes and candidly mistakes that cost people's lives an there's nothing happening. i think that's an issue that does need to get resolved. if they were, why are they still on the payroll? other than that, i've been able to read all the cables. i've seen the films. i feel like i know what happened in benghazi . i'm fairly satisfied, but look, the house wants to have hearings, i hope they're done in a respectful way and hopefully it will shed some light on what happened.

    >> i wanted to get your reaction to the air force chief of staff was testifying yesterday on this issue of the rising number of sexual assaults that have been taking place in the military and he blamed it on a hook up culture. partially blamed it. didn't blame it all, but partially on a hook up culture. do you agree?

    >> i didn't see that. i had so many other things happening yesterday. i don't know that i can even comment. i can tell you this, that you know, that type of incident is despicable. look, we are so proud of our professional military, things like this though really hurt those people who represent us so well across the world and hopefully, we'll do those things very quickly to ensure this doesn't, this doesn't happen again.

    >> are you upset that the president didn't arrange for you to get a hole in one?

    >> you know, saxby actually did it on his own. so there wasn't someone running down there making it happen. it was a great day. the president was easy to be around and i really was glad to be with him.

    >> bob corker , republican from tennessee. senator, good to see you. thanks for coming in.

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