By Kristina Wong - 05/04/14 11:55 AM EDT
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamKerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria GOP leaders express reservations a day after 9/11 veto override McConnell opens door to changing 9/11 bill MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday said the White House created a "political smokescreen" after the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack, instead of presenting facts to Americans and the families of those killed in the attack.
He said a recently revealed email by senior administration official Ben Rhodes preparing former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice for TV interviews on the attack showed an attempt to "protect the White House politically."
The email sought "to create an impression to the American people that this was not a broader foreign policy failure" ahead of presidential elections, he said Sunday on CBS's "Face the Nation."
The email came to light after an 18-month battle by conservative group Judicial Watch to obtain documents from the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act. The group sued the State Department, which was then forced to hand over 41 documents, including the email.
"It required an independent judiciary to present this email to the American people," said Graham, who added that Congress had subpoenaed all documents on Benghazi.
Graham also criticized the administration on its response to the Ukraine crisis, adding that the May 25 elections "cannot go forward" with Russian special agents already infiltrated into Ukraine.
"The Ukraine has been dismembered," he said. "I fear now that there will be a civil war."
Graham said Russian President Vladimir Putin needed to be punished in a meaningful way and called for sanctions on Russia's energy and banking sectors.
He said the U.S. also needs to arm Ukraine forces and "drive the Russian economy into the ground."
"President Obama is delusional about what's going on in Ukraine," he said.