In the aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, the State Department’s then-spokesman Victoria Nuland pushed back against some of the language in the initial administration talking points, and former CIA deputy director Mike Morell said he isn’t entirely sure why.
“I don’t know, sir — you’ll have to ask her,” Morell told the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday when asked about State’s edits.
In e-mails after the attacks, Nuland expressed concern that the talking points, originally drafted by the CIA, cited the agency’s warnings about inadequate security at overseas posts. Nuland said in the e-mails she worried the State Department would be blamed for the attacks.
Critics of the administration’s handling of the issue have raised questions about the political import of the talking points, suggesting they may have been adjusted to protect Hillary Clinton’s image. In a 2013 Senate hearing, Nuland denied that then-secretary of state Clinton played a role in the developing of the talking points.
Nuland, a career State Department employee rather than a political appointee, currently serves as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.