(Video: Fox News)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) momentarily stole the spotlight from Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on day two of her confirmation hearing when an exchange with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) grew heated and sent the Republican lawmaker storming off after declaring, “We’re at war! We’re not fighting a crime!”
Graham had come to the end of his allotted time for questioning Jackson in the first round of the Senate Judiciary Committees hearing on her nomination to the Supreme Court. He chose to use the remainder of his time to express his concern over the activist support that had pressured President Joe Biden to select Jackson over his preferred candidate, U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs.
Control of the room returned to Durbin in his role as chair of the committee and he decided to rattle off statistics that contradicted points Graham had made earlier in his questioning. After first addressing Jackson on Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-SC) decision to back her instead of Childs, who like Graham had Childs as his top pick, Durbin turned to the cost of incarcerating prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and their recidivism rates.
“The annual budget for Guantanamo is $540 million per year,” Durbin stated and then extrapolated that based on the 39 detainees held there, “each of these detainees is being held at the expense of $12 or $13 million per year.”
When Durbin suggested that the recidivism rate was five percent since 2009, when President Barack Obama took office, Graham felt it necessary to interrupt the chair.
“Mr. Chairman, according to the Director of National Intelligence it’s 31 percent. Somebody’s wrong here,” Graham exclaimed before adding, “If you’re gonna talk about what I said, I’m gonna respond to what you said.”
Graham proceeded to call out Durbin over his notion that the detainees be moved to a facility in Colorado because it would be cheaper, citing the chairman’s lack of support for indefinite detention.
Durbin ignored Graham and instead parsed the data on recidivism stating that the Republicans figures stretched back to 2003 to which an incensed Graham retorted, “What does it matter when it goes back to?”
“We had ’em, and they got loose and they started killing people!” Graham declared. “If you’re one of the people killed in 2005 does it matter to you when we released them.”
Durbin then tried to point the blame to President George W. Bush and Graham deflected to the system, of which Jackson was a part of, as the problem. “I’m suggesting the system has failed miserably and advocates to change this system like she was advocating would destroy our ability to protect this country. We’re at war! We’re not fighting a crime!”
“This is not some passage of time event!” Graham passionately continued. “As long as they’re dangerous, I hope they all die in jail if they’re gonna go back and kill Americans. It won’t bother me one bit if 39 of ’em die in prison.
“If it costs $500 million to keep ’em in jail, keep ’em in jail,” he insisted before pointing to the current state of the Afghan government comprised of former detainees.
“This whole thing by the left about this war ain’t working!” Graham concluded before shutting off his microphone and storming out of the committee hearing. Durbin continued with his points as though nothing had happened.
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