White House: Republicans ignored Benghazi emails

Administration officials say top Republicans saw the emails two months ago and didn't express any issues

By Alex Seitz-Wald

Published May 10, 2013 7:30PM (EDT)

Republican members of Congress raised no objections when they first saw internal emails detailing the evolution of the administration’s talking points on Benghazi almost two months ago, senior administration officials said in response to a question from Salon today, and House Speaker John Boehner declined to attend or send a representative to that briefing.

Lawyers with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence briefed House and Senate Intelligence Committee members in March about the emails, which ABC News released today to much hullabaloo, after officials said they would make them available to members of Congress in February.

Yesterday, Boehner called for the release of the emails, but the administration officials, who agreed to speak on a conference call with reporters only on the condition of anonymity, said today that Boehner would have seen them had he attended the briefing, to which he and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were also invited.

On the Senate side, lawyers briefed Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Richard Burr, who said the briefing satisfied many of his concerns. "It answers a lot, if not all, of the questions that the committee [had] from an oversight standpoint," he told the Hill at the time. On the House side, those briefed included Intelligence Committee Chairman Michael McCaul. Republican members in neither chamber raised substantive concerns about the emails, the official said, and were free to discuss them publicly as they were not classified.

The emails about the September 2012 attack on the diplomatic post in Libya were shared with members of Congress during negotiations over the confirmation of CIA Director John Brennan. If Republicans had had major problems with what the emails revealed, they probably would have said something at the time and not confirmed Brennan 63-34, White House spokesperson Jay Carney said during his daily press briefing this afternoon. "This is an effort to accuse the administration of hiding something that we did not hide," Carney said.

Alex Seitz-Wald

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Benghazi Benghazi Attack John Boehner White House