Sen. Lindsey Graham played the role of reluctant warrior Sunday, telling "Fox News Sunday's" Chris Wallace that he doesn't want to hold up every nomination in the Senate over what happened in Benghazi, Libya. But, he said, until the administration allows the Senate to hear testimony from survivors of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission there, he'll block the White House at every turn.
"I shouldn't have to do this," the South Carolina lawmaker said. "I shouldn't have to make these kinds of threats."
Graham dismissed any suggestion that his wholesale obstruction of President Barack Obama's administration was "over the top."
"I don't think it's over the top for Congress to challenge the narrative of any administration when an ambassador is killed," Graham said.
The Senate Foreign Relations committee member insisted that a true accounting of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack -- which claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens -- cannot happen until all witnesses are made available "apart from the Obama administration."
"Congress really doesn't know anything about what happened in Benghazi from those who lived through it," Graham said.
He tried to strike at the logic of the administration's argument -- that talking to witnesses during an ongoing investigation is out of bounds -- by invoking the terrorist attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. According to the senator, the White House's stance would have precluded Congress from talking to any survivors, first responders or officials involved in the deadly attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, because the incident would have been classified as an ongoing investigation.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, multiple administration officials, including then-ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, said the melee stemmed from protests against an anti-Islam video.
"What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video," Rice said September 16, 2012, on NBC's "Meet the Press."
While Rice has since attributed those incorrect statements to lacking intelligence briefings, Graham said his questions would focus on getting the definitive answer to what happened on the ground that night.
"I want to know from their mouth ... 'Did you see a protest, did you ever report a protest? ... Did you make security requests?'" Graham said.
On CNN's "State of the Union," Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, a close ally of Graham's, repeated some of his criticisms.
"To not get to the bottom of this isn't acceptable. We keep getting brushed off," Ayotte told chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. "The American people and the victims of this deserve to know the truth."
Ayotte, however, stopped short of offering support for Graham's strategy of holding up nominations.