Graham Praises the President; Schumer Calls Putin a Bully

Republican leaders were praising the President for his decision to shut down embassies in the Middle East because of what the government learned after the Benghazi attacks. 

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Former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden said on Fox News Sunday that the administration's decision to close embassies in the Middle East because of a potential Al Qaeda terrorist attack may be a brilliant strategical move. The move could be designed to show the terrorist group that the U.S. is hot on their trial and that it may, potentially, scramble their plans. "The announcement itself may also be designed to interrupt Al Qaeda planning," Hayden said, "to put them off stride, to put them on the back foot, to let them know that we’re on at least to a portion of this plot line."

The President's decision was also earning praise from some of his loudest critics. Most notably, that blonde-haired Benghazi hunter from South Carolina. "We’ve learned from Benghazi, thank God, and the administration’s doing this right," Sen. Lindsay Graham said on CNN's State of the Union. "Shutting down of embassies makes sense." Graham credited the Benghazi attacks for making terrorists think they have some kind of upper hand over the U.S. "They attacked our consulate, they killed an Ambassador and nobody’s paid a price. After Benghazi, these Al Qaeda types are really on steroids, thinking we’re weaker and they’re stronger," he said. But the Republican also cautioned that we can't let some terrorist posturing scare the U.S. out of the Middle East forever. "This is an effort to terrorize us, to drive us out of the Mid East. And if we take the bait and try to come home and create a fortress America, we'll have another 9/11," he said. "So we have to show resolve, but we have to be smart." Graham said his planned trip to Egypt with Sen. John McCain is still on the schedule, though he wasn't certain when his flight leaves. Graham was also quick to credit the administration's knowledge of the attack to the National Security Agency's spying practices. "The NSA program is proving it’s worth yet again," he said. He also argued this should justify the NSA's programs to the lawmakers who have called for changes since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the NSA's data collection. "To members of the Congress who want to reform the NSA program, great. But if you want to gut it, you make us much less safe and you’re putting our nation at risk," Graham said. "We need to have policies in place that can deal with the threats that exist and they are real and they are growing."

House Republicans were also agreeing with the President, something that only happens when the planets align. Rep. Mike McCaul praised Obama's embassy decision on CBS's Face the Nation. "The administration’s call to close the 21 embassies was a very smart call, particularly in light of what happened in Benghazi when warnings were not headed," the House Homeland Security chairman said. "I’m glad to see to see they are taking this very seriously." McCaul has been briefed on the attacks and he says the threat is being taken so seriously "because of the specificity, because of where it's coming from, the level of chatter, it seems to be a fairly large operation." "It's giving the intelligence community quite a bit of pause," he said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer called Russian President Vladimir Putin a "school yard bully," on CBS's Face the Nation. "The relationship between the United States and Russia is more poisonous than any time since the Cold War because of all of this," Schumer said. The "all of this" Schumer was referring to is the ongoing brouhaha over the legal status of NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The former contractor was granted a temporary asylum in Russia this week. "Putin’s behaving like a school yard bully," Schumer said. "Unless you stand up to that bully, they ask for more and more and more. Always going out of his way, Mr. Putin is, to poke us in the eye with Iran and Syria, now with Snowden." Schumer had a drastic idea for how the President could respond to his Russian counterpart's latest defiance. "I would urge the president not to go to the bilateral meeting next month," he said. That would give Putin the kind of respect he doesn’t deserve."

Rep. Eric Cantor would not commit to holding a vote on the Senate's bipartisan immigration bill that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants when the House reconvenes in the fall during his appearance on Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace tried to make it easy for Cantor: "A simple yes or no, are you committed to a vote this year on a path to legalization?" But the House Majority Leader would only say that Congress will vote on bills without specifying which ones. "We will have a vote on a series of bills at some point," Cantor said. "And it will deal with a variety of issues. Border security is a really important issue because it goes to that trust factor, as well." In effect, his reply boiled down to a half-hearted promise that Congress would legislate on something, he's just not sure what. Cantor said the Senate's bill was unsatisfactory because "there's a lot of doubt being cast on whether the folks who voted for that know even what, in the end, was voted on, because of the scramble to get the votes in the -- in the last piece of that legislative activity," he said. But Cantor also promised that the House will take up immigration at some point, and they'll do it better than the Senate, too. "We're going to do it a lot more deliberative and smart in the House," he said.

Oh, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum left the door wide open for a potential 2016 Presidential run during a roundtable conversation on NBC's Meet the Press. Santorum is traveling to Iowa this week, a move that often signals a politician is mulling a bid for the White House. "I’m open to looking at a presidential race in 2016," Santorum said when asked about his aspirations. "But we got a little ways [to go]. We got elections in 2014." So he's receptive to the idea of thinking about running for the Republican nomination. But not until after the mid-terms. His presidential comments come about 11 minutes into this video:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.