On Thursday’s “Morning Joe,” host Joe Scarborough and left-leaning MSNBC “NOW” host Alex Wagner went head-to-head over the investigation into the White House’s response to the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2012.
Former Bush adviser and McCain campaign consultant Nicolle Wallace set it up, insisting the talking points the White House puts out trump anything the CIA may have put out for then-UN ambassador Susan Rice to use for her Sunday show appearances.
Partial transcript as follows:
WALLACE: When the White House sends out talking points for a Sunday show, they trump anything that came from anywhere else.
WAGNER: But if you re-read that e-mail, I mean, everybody has focused on one of the four talking points. The other three are totally benign and exactly what you would expect from the white house. The fourth one, I think, is open to interpretation. There’s a lot of litigation that will continue about that. But for this to launch a thousand ships –
SCARBOROUGH: Where’s the ambiguity?
Well first of all – to launch a thousand ships — when you have something that goes to the heart of the matter that the White House –
WAGNER: Does it go to the heart of the matter?
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah. When they say, ‘Susan Rice, don’t talk about Barack Obama’s policy’ –
WALLACE: Failure of policy.
SCARBOROUGH: — talk about a videotape. Of course you know this goes to the heart. Don’t insult our intelligence on this. When they’re telling Susan Rice to talk about a videotape, you’re saying that doesn’t go to the heart of the matter?
WAGNER: I believe the number one talking point on that e-mail was ‘our job is to keep Americans safe. We will not waiver in that.’ That was the number one.
SCARBOROUGH: I’ll wave that flag.
WAGNER: We’ll get to the bottom of this. These attacks were.
SCARBOROUGH: That doesn’t negate what happens at the end.
WAGNER: There are two things to litigate here. One to your earlier point, why is this e-mail coming out now? There’s a legitimate question.
SCARBOROUGH: Why is it?
WAGNER: I don’t know the answer to that. I think the White House should be asked. The second, there was a more nuanced assessment the CIA had as for whether these attacks were rooted in protest. That nuance was stripped from the e-mail Ben Rhodes sent and I think there is a legitimate question.
WALLACE: Because we now know the CIA – their analysis did not include the video. The CIA testified certainly there were protests in the region, but not that they were tied to the video. That’s why the White House talking points are being viewed with such a degree of suspicion by Republicans.
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