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    Senator Graham urges delay on CIA nomination

    Preparations and fund-raising are underway in Washington for President Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21.
    Saul Loeb/Getty Images
    Preparations and fund-raising are underway in Washington for President Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21.

    WASHINGTON — President Obama’s choice of John Brennan to be the next CIA director hit a snag Tuesday as a Republican senator threatened to delay the nomination until the Obama administration provides answers on the deadly assault in Libya that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans.

    Senator Lindsey Graham, whose opposition helped scuttle UN Ambassador Susan Rice’s hopes of becoming secretary of state, said the Senate should not confirm any nominee for the nation’s top spy post until the administration elaborates on the attack in Benghazi.

    ‘‘My support for a delay in confirmation is not directed at Mr. Brennan, but is an unfortunate, yet necessary, action to get information from this administration,’’ the South Carolina senator said in a statement. ‘‘I have tried — repeatedly — to get information on Benghazi, but my requests have been repeatedly ignored.’’

    Senator Lindsey Graham did not explicitly say he would put a ‘‘hold’’ on John Brennan’s nomination, and his office declined further comment.


    He added that the administration’s ‘‘stonewalling on Benghazi’’ must end.

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    Graham did not explicitly say he would put a ‘‘hold’’ on Brennan’s nomination, and his office declined further comment. However, his statement signaled that he would try to slow the nomination.

    The White House dismissed the politicization of the issue and pressed for the Senate to act quickly and deliberately on Brennan’s nomination.

    ‘‘It would be unfortunate, I think, if in pursuit of this issue, which was highly politicized, the Senate would hold up the nomination of John Brennan to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency,’’ said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

    An independent review board released an exhaustive report last month that found ‘‘systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels’’ of the State Department that led to inadequate security at the mission in Benghazi.


    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is likely to deliver her long-awaited testimony on Libya before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Jan. 22, although the State Department says the date hasn’t been finalized.

    Illness and a concussion delayed her congressional ­appearance in December, one of her last acts as secretary of state. Obama has nominated Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, to replace Clinton after Rice withdrew her name from consideration.

    In the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens, Republicans criticized the administration for blaming spontaneous protests over an American-made, anti-Muslim video. They suggested the administration was trying to play down an act of terrorism leading up to the November election, even though Obama used that description in the days after the raid.

    Graham and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, directed much of their ire at Rice, who said in a series of Sunday talk show interviews on Sept. 16 that the attack may have been a protest that got out of hand. Rice’s widely debunked explanation was based on talking points from the intelligence community.

    Graham said he wants answers on who changed Rice’s talking points and deleted references to Al Qaeda. He said lawmakers were told that the director of national intelligence deleted the references, then were told it was the FBI. Hours after a meeting with Rice in late November, Congress was informed that the CIA had changed the talking points.


    ‘‘This ever-changing story should be resolved,’’ Graham said. ‘‘It is imperative we understand who changed the talking points just weeks before a presidential election and why.’’

    Graham, who is up for re-election next year, has been an outspoken critic of the administration on Libya.

    Inaugural planners seeking big-money donations

    WASHINGTON — Planners of President Obama’s second inauguration are making an unprecedented solicitation for high-dollar contributions up to $1 million to help pay for the celebration in exchange for special access.

    The changes are part of a continuing erosion of Obama’s pledge to keep donors and special interests at arm’s length of his presidency. He has abandoned the policy from his first inauguration to accept donations up to only $50,000 from individuals, announcing last month that he would take unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations.

    A fund-raising appeal obtained by the Associated Press shows the Presidential Inaugural Committee is going far beyond his previous self-imposed limits — or apparently any fund-raising in the modern history of American presidential inaugurations — by offering donors four VIP packages named after the country’s founding fathers.

    Event organizers are hoping the packages will pay for expensive events surrounding Obama’s inaugural on Jan. 21. Obama raised $53 million in private money for his first inauguration, when a record 1.8 million people packed the National Mall to see the nation’s first black president take the oath of office. The celebration has been scaled down this year, with less than half the crowd expected and a cut from 10 inauguration-night balls to two.