Host Bob Schieffer explained that, “The White House finally acknowledged this week that the president did not make a call to the Libyan government” on the night of September 11, 2012. Schieffer went on to say that it seemed, after the president received a briefing that afternoon, he had “no further involvement,” and asked “what was the president doing?”
McDonough, who was deputy national-security adviser at the time, said “I don’t remember it that way,” and explained that, as outlined in a letter the administration sent to Congress this week, “Secretary of State Clinton called the Libyans . . . on behalf of the president” (which, of course, doesn’t contradict what Schieffer had outlined). He said “we carried out a very robust reaction to that situation at the direction of the president.” When Schieffer pushed him on the president’s role in the situation, he said that “throughout the night, not only [were we] briefing him,” the administration also convened “the deputies committee of the National Security Council” and called the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. In sum, McDonough said, “we did everything we could that night, which was borne out by the Accountability Review Board.”
Schieffer then asked McDonough about the 70 e-mails exchanged within the administration before Susan Rice’s appearance on Sunday shows to talk about the attack, the release of which GOP senators are now calling for before confirming Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense — “why don’t you release those e-mails?” McDonough responded by mentioning the various information the White House has disclosed, and said “we’ll resolve” Republicans’ questions — an answer he repeated when Schieffer asked him again if they would release the e-mails.