House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter to the State Department asking for more information about the administration’s original talking points drafted following the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi.
According to the letter sent to Victoria Nuland, a State Department official involved in the composing of the talking points, Issa writes, “One of your e-mails made clear that some of your colleagues at the State Department headquarters shared these concerns. You wrote that changes to the talking points did not ‘resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership.'”
State responded to a subpoena sent by the committee on May 28 and sent members 97 pages of documents relating to the Benghazi attacks. The Committee was not satisfied with the State Department’s response, calling it “incomplete” and that it “failed to make fully clear who Nuland had been communicating with about Benghazi related concerns.” According to a statement sent by the Committee’s press office:
“[n]one of the 97 pages that the State Department produced… made clear what the ‘issues’ those in your ‘building leadership’ were concerned about,” writes Issa. “In fact, nearly all of the 97 pages produced by the Department had been previously released to the media by the White House. The State Department continues to refuse to make the documents available that would clarify what aspects of the talking points your bosses were concerned about.
Your e-mail makes clear that Department leadership shared concerns with you about the draft talking points,” the letter to Nuland concludes. “It is my hope and expectation that the documents I am requesting will identify those concerns, and whose concerns they were.
Members of Congress asked Nuland what she meant in those emails by “building leadership” at a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations confirmation hearing on becoming assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. Nuland said she was acting in a communications role, not a policy one, when she sent the email.
“I never edited these talking points,” Mrs. Nuland said. “I never made changes. I simply said that I thought that policy people needed to look at them.”
“With regard to building leadership,” she said, “I was concerned that all of my bosses at the policy level … needed to look at these to see if they agreed with me that they were potentially inaccurate.”
It was reported that the “only person” Mrs. Nuland consulted during the crafting of the talking points was “Jake Sullivan,” who was serving as “the deputy chief of staff for policy.”