State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not directly deny to reporters Wednesday that Benghazi survivors were being withheld from testifying before Congress, suggesting instead that House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is mistaken to assume any of the survivors do want to testify.
Psaki went on the defensive Wednesday when Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asserted that she was giving contradictory statements concerning the Benghazi survivors. Psaki said these survivors were still involved in the criminal investigation surrounding the attacks which happened a year ago Wednesday, and it would endanger the lives of the survivors and their families to reveal their identities.
Psaki started off by saying that the State Department is “not preventing… any employees who wish to tell their story from doing so.”
Lee asked Psaki directly if the assertion that the survivors of the Benghazi attack, who have been interviewed by the FBI and the Accountability Review Board, were being kept from Congress was “incorrect.” Psaki paused and said that, “based on the information available,” interviewing the survivors “outside of the criminal justice process” would pose “risks” to the efforts by law enforcement. She went on to say that if the identities of the survivors became public, it could make them and their families “targets” and “at risk.”
Psaki went on to infer that the survivors did not want to testify: “[Lee’s inquiry] implies an interest from any of the individuals [Issa] has requested in participating.” When asked directly if that is what she was implying, she responded, “I don’t have any more for you.”
Psaki was pressed by Matt Lee:
“Do you see the contradiction here? When [Issa] complains that you are not making people available to him and you say that’s not true, you are. But then you say that, in fact, people are not being made available–that doesn’t make sense.”
Psaki responded that she doesn’t see why “anyone would want to do anything that would jeopardize the process.”
Lee asked again if Issa’s assertion that witnesses were being withheld from Congress was “factually correct.” Psaki responded, “context here is very important and I don’t have any more to add.”
The State Department acknowledged that they received Chairman Issa’s letter indicating that he may compel witnesses to testify. “I’m sure we will consider responding,” Psaki said.
Becca Watkins, the Communications Director for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released this exclusive statement to Breitbart News:
Throughout this investigation, despite pledges by President Obama and Secretary Kerry to cooperate, the State Department has been devious and disingenuous in its dealings with Congress. This exchange makes it quite clear that the State Department is not transparent but hiding relevant information and witnesses from investigators under pretenses that they invented nearly a year after the attack.
Watch the full exchange with Jen Psaki and Matt Lee below: