Sen. John McCain said Sunday that the actions taken by administration in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks amounted to a “cover-up.”
“For the president’s spokesman to say, ‘Well, there was only words or technical changes made in those e-mails’ is a flat-out untruth,” McCain told Martha Raddatz in an interview on This Week. “I’d call it a cover-up. I would call it a cover-up in the extent that there was willful removal of information which was obvious. It was obvious. Mr. Hicks said in his testimony his jaw dropped. . . I was on another Sunday morning show after Susan Rice, my jaw dropped. I said look, people don’t bring rocket propelled grenades and mortars to demonstrations.”
Recent reporting from Stephen Hayes and Jonathan Karl, among other sources, has shown that substantive changes were made by administration operatives to the post-attack talking points originally created by the CIA. White House spokesman Jay Carney had long insisted that the only changes made were “stylistic” before yielding on Friday that more extensive revisions were made as part of an “interagency process.” The final version of the talking points removed any reference to Ansar al-Sharia, the al-Qeade linked group that took credit for the attack.
McCain suggested the motivation for the narrative management was the presidential campaign.
“The narrative of the Obama campaign is ‘Bin Laden is dead, Al Qaeda is on the run, not to worry about anything,’ and here comes this attack on Benghazi,” said McCain.
The Arizona senator echoed calls for a congressional select committee to lead further investigations, but he distanced himself from Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla) who earlier this week said that “the I-word” — impeachment — might soon be in order.
McCain did say that the cover-up could potentially implicate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I think the secretary of state has played a role in this,” he said. “She had to have been in the loop some way, but we don’t know for sure.”