The Republican National Committee has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking “any and all emails or other documents containing the terms ‘Libya’ and/or ‘Benghazi’ dated between September 11, 2012 and November 7, 2012 directed from or to U.S. Department of State employees originating from, or addressed to, persons whose email addresses end in either ‘barackobama.com’ or ‘dnc.org.’”
As the RNC explained in a statement announcing the request, these dates would cover “the day of the attack, the events surrounding [U.N. Ambassador Susan] Rice’s Sunday show appearances, and all of the presidential debates.”
“Americans need to know whether the State Department had any contact with the staff of the president’s reelection campaign as talking points on Benghazi were drafted and edited,” said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. “We certainly hope political considerations didn’t come into play when the administration decided what to tell the American people, but the administration’s changing answers certainly raise valid concerns that we don’t know the full story. Assuming there was no contact between the State Department and the campaign, this should be an easy request to fill.”
Meanwhile, House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is also looking for “documents and communications referring or relating to the Benghazi talking points,” but he’s using subpoenas, because he’s finished making requests the State Department refuses to voluntarily cooperate with:
“The State Department has not lived up to the Administration’s broad and unambiguous promises of cooperation with Congress. Therefore, I am left with no alternative but to compel the State Department to produce relevant documents through a subpoena,” Issa states in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry accompanying the subpoena.
“In a series of letters, my colleagues in Congress and I have requested documents and information related to the ongoing investigation. To date, the Administration has largely ignored these requests, despite various pledges both you and the President have made to cooperate with Congress,” Issa continues. The letter notes the Committee originally requested the documents on May 15, 2013, but the State Department responded by forwarding emails previously released by the White House, which did not comply with the Committee’s request.
“The documents the White House released on May 15, 2013 did not answer outstanding questions about who at the State Department, other than spokesperson Victoria Nuland, expressed reservations about certain aspects of the talking points, including language that made clear the State Department had received prior warnings of threats in the region and was aware of previous attacks on foreign interests in eastern Libya, and that extremists linked to al Qa’ida may have participated in the attacks. Nuland’s correspondence to the interagency suggests that she did not raise these concerns in a vacuum. For example, after changes were made to address State Department concerns, Nuland responded that the changes did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership … The documents the enclosed subpoena covers will help the Committee understand why, although on the day after the attacks senior State Department leadership believed that Islamic extremists were involved, there were reservations about publicly acknowledging any such involvement just three days later.”
According to the letter, “Publicly available information about the talking points creates the appearance that Administration officials were interested in sparing the State Department from political criticism in the wake of the attack… This issue is at the heart of the Committee’s ongoing investigation.”
The deadline for delivering these documents is Friday, June 7.