It’s clear that Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) had an aggressive strategy for his appearance on “Fox News Sunday” for a segment on the emerging scandal and cover-up surrounding the alteration of talking points for Amb. Susan Rice the week after the deadly terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2012.
Smith went into a long and energetic monologue delivering his own, well-crafted talking points in an attempt to push back against the narrative set-up Friday by the ABC News report showing the twelve revisions of the talking points and the paper trail showing how the State Department and White House removed any mention of terrorism from the narrative that week.
“I think when you look at what was said in totality in that week, they didn’t reach conclusions. The way you just presented that was that by the Sunday afterwards, that the administration said here is what happened, here is our conclusion.
Look, the day after the attack, the president called it a terrorist attack. Susan Rice, in those interviews on Sunday, described violent extremist elements who took over the attack.
So I really think that this is — this has just become a very, very partisan-focused, scandal-focused attack by the Republicans investigating this. Instead of trying to figure out exactly what happened, the most interesting question to me is who are these violent extremist elements? I know Mike has done a ton of work on the Intel Committee — as Al Qaeda has metastasized beyond just what was in Pakistan and Yemen.
There’s a whole bunch of groups out there. We don’t have as much information as we need to about which one threatened us. I think that’s what led to Benghazi as much as anything.
But the president never said, no terrorism, no Al Qaeda. There was a dispute about how soon to lead to specific conclusions that now is being made into Watergate and Iran-Contra. I think the desire of the Republicans to create a scandal here has really undermined any ability to have a credible look at what actually happened.”
After the exhaustive speech, Wallace attempted to conduct an interview and Smith used the opportunity to attack Wallace and Fox News.
WALLACE: Well, Congressman Smith, let me push back on you on several of those points. We now know –
SMITH: I’m not surprised, but go ahead.
WALLACE: Well, that is what I’m here for, sir. I’m not a potted plant. I’m here to ask some questions. We now know that there were 11 different versions of the talking points, 11 different versions —
SMITH: I thought it was twelve.
WALLACE: May I just please go ahead?
Wallace’s evocation of “potted plant” is a clear hat tip to attorney Brendan Sullivan who served as counsel for Lt. Col. Oliver North during the Iran/Contra hearings in the mid 1980’s and who used the famous “I’m not a potted plant” line to respond to senators complaining about North consulting his attorney during questioning.
Watch the segment from Fox News here: