Lindsey Graham Invokes Benghazi in Attacking Trump Budget

The senator calls the president's proposed cuts to the State Department "irresponsible."
Sen. Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham

WASHINGTON ― Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that if “fully implemented,” President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to State Department funding would lead to “a lot of Benghazi situations.”

Trump first full budget proposal, released Tuesday, was met with heavy criticism, including from his fellow Republicans. But Graham evoking the deadly 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound attacks was, perhaps, the most pointed critique offered. Those attacks ― which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens ― have been spotlighted by Republicans as massive, even criminal, failures of the Obama administration and, specifically, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

For Graham to cite the Benghazi attacks illustrates the frustration he and others have with Trump’s push to cut U.S. foreign policy functions outside of the military. 

“Twenty-nine percent cut to the State Department, I think, is very irresponsible given threats we face,” said Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If fully implemented we’d have to retreat from the world or have a lot of Benghazi situations on our hands.”

Graham, who briefly was one of Trump’s opponents in the 2016 presidential race, also said the U.S. can’t win wars “with hard power alone,” referring to an approach focused on the heavy use of military force.

Trump’s budget isn’t being taken seriously by lawmakers on the Hill and doesn’t stand a chance of passing either congressional chamber.

“I’m sure we’ll take the budget and redo it,” Graham told reporters. 

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