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5 join push to block Fed nominee if Benghazi witnesses kept quiet

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 7:48 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Five Republican lawmakers joined efforts to block Obama's nominations for top positions until the White House stops what they consider muzzling people about the terrorist attack in Benghazi last year, when the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three Americans were killed.

The five are Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; and Reps. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Jim Jordan of Ohio. They join Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who started the effort.

Graham said he will block the nomination of Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve until eyewitnesses and their statements to the FBI within 48 hours of the attack are given to Congress.

“That's the only leverage we have,” Graham said. “How can Congress conclude an investigation if we don't have access to the people who were there?”

The lawmakers said the Obama administration is pressuring government employees not to testify to Congress about what they might know about the Sept. 11, 2012, assault.

The State Department said in a letter to Graham this week that releasing those witnesses and their statements could jeopardize a criminal investigation and endanger the lives and families of witnesses, some of whom work in high-threat foreign posts.

Graham said that if such a theory were allowed to stand, it would block Congress from exercising its oversight responsibility.

“For the good of the country, you can't hide behind a criminal investigation,” Graham said.

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