Inhofe: Comparisons to Benghazi ‘make me sick’

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon watchdog says Syria withdrawal hurt ISIS fight | Vindman testifies on third day of public hearings | Lawmakers to wrap up defense bill talks this week Lawmakers expect to finish defense policy bill negotiations this week Bipartisan senators urge national security adviser to appoint 5G coordinator MORE (R-Okla.) on Thursday rejected any comparisons between the ambush in Niger that left four American soldiers dead and the 2012 terror attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

Comparisons between the two deadly attacks have become more frequent in recent days, with some liberal commentators questioning why there aren’t more hearings about Niger compared to Benghazi.

Inhofe argued that the situation in Niger was a “totally different thing altogether.”

“Let’s keep in mind we have some 800 troops that are over there,” Inhofe said to HLN “Unfiltered” host S.E. Cupp, who asked about the comparisons.

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“We have a problem: we have Boko Haram, a terrorist group that’s very active,” Inhoffe said. 

“We want to keep it contained there and eliminated there because we are winning some of these battles,” he continued, noting the ambush was “completely unexpected,” without warning of “any kind of terrorism” or attacks.  

“And every time I hear people compare this to Benghazi, it makes me physically sick,” he said.

An investigation is being conducted into the ambush that left the four U.S. soldiers dead in Niger, and lawmakers in both parties have said they are troubled by unanswered questions related to the event — including the lack of a timeline from the Pentagon on what happened.

The body of one of the soldiers killed in the attack — Sgt. La David Johnson — was not initially accounted for and was found days later by villagers in Niger.

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“We at the Department of Defense like to know what we’re talking about before we talk,” Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court Former Mattis staffer: Trump 'shooting himself in the foot' on foreign policy MORE said on Thursday. “And so we don't have all the accurate information yet. We will release it as rapidly as we get it.”

Questions about the incident, in which the soldiers were apparently attacked by an affiliate of al Qaeda, have included whether additional military support was available, and if so whether it could have been offered.

It’s also unclear whether an intelligence failure might have contributed to the attack.

Questions about whether further intelligence or military support could have prevented deaths at the Benghazi consulate attack were raised for years by Republicans after the 2012 attack.

Inhofe claimed in the HLN interview that former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE knew in advance that an attack on Benghazi was coming, making that situation completely different from the incident in Niger.

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“Because even our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, knew well in advance, weeks in advance, that that was going to happen,” he said. “It was an organized terrorist attack and totally different thing altogether. Four people died in Benghazi — totally unnecessary, because we knew that was going to happen.”

Multiple reports on the Benghazi attack have found no evidence that Clinton or other U.S. officials knew of a specific threat on the compound. A 2016 report from a special Benghazi panel led by House Republicans faulted Clinton and the State Department for not completely understanding the risks associated with the compound, and found that intelligence suggested an attack was possible.

On Niger, Inhofe said: “We wouldn't have troops in these places if there wasn't some threat, some reason to have them there. So every once in awhile, something totally unforeseen can happen.

“I don't know what happened. They're investigating it right now,” he added.

Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonBlack lawmakers condemn Trump's 'lynching' remarks Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE (D-Fla.), who has been in a public fight with President Trump over a condolence call he made to Johnson’s family, demanded answers on Friday about the ambush.

He said the “circumstances are similar” with the attack on the Libya compound, and referred to Niger as "Mr. Trump’s Benghazi.” 

The men killed “didn’t have appropriate weapons where they were. They were told by intelligence there was no threat. They had trucks that were not armored trucks. They were particularly not protected. Just like in Benghazi, they were given the impression that everything was fine,” she said.

“I want to know why he [Johnson] was separated from the rest of his soldiers," Wilson said on CNN's “New Day.”

“Why did it take 48 hours for them to find him? Was he still alive? Was he kidnapped? What's going on?” she asked.