WASHINGTON –- Colorado House Republicans stepped up their scrutiny of the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack and are targeting two key officials with ties to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Rep. Doug Lamborn has asked Michael Morell, former acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to appear before the House Committee on Intelligence to explain an apparent contradiction in his testimony two months after the 2012 attack.
Morell told Congress he did not coordinate with the White House about changing the talking points used by then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice on several Sunday talk shows just days after the assault, but emails suggest Morell misled members of a joint House and Senate committee.
Rice originally told CBS’s “Face the Nation” the terrorist attack was a spontaneous protest, but changed her story in a Feb. 23 “Meet the Press” interview and acknowledged her comments were not “100 percent accurate.”
Three Colorado House Republicans say Rice’s admission calls into question her credibility in her new job as National Security Adviser, a promotion she received after the Benghazi attack.
“She’s absolutely not credible, she would not even admit she had made a mistake,” Rep. Mike Coffman told The Colorado Observer. “Either she was lying to the American people or she was misleading them.”
Lamborn and Rep. Cory Gardner also criticized Rice’s reversal and said it’s time for the Obama administration to come clean about the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Libya that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three U.S. officials.
“I would sincerely hope that Susan Rice regrets stating that the Benghazi terrorist attacks were the result of a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video,” Lamborn said. “This was totally untrue and the national security adviser should clarify her statement for the sake of her own credibility.”
Gardner said he was not surprised by Rice’s turn-around and that she “doesn’t regret continually repeating false information following the attacks.”
“She has been a key spokesperson for an administration that has refused to answer basic questions regarding the night of September 11, 2012,” Gardner said.
Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Jared Polis, and Ed Perlmutter declined comment on the ongoing investigations.
A Democratic official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the situation candidly, criticized both parties in their handling of the attack.
“The administration’s response has been fishy, but Republicans haven’t gotten a smoking gun yet,” the official said, noting the attack occurred 18 months ago.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an influential Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, disputed that assertion in an interview Thursday with the Observer.
“The Democratic Party has laid down on one of the greatest abuses of executive branch authority in a while. I would challenge the official to examine the record,” Graham said.
Graham vowed that Congress will increase its oversight of the Benghazi scandal and that Morell will be the first to receive scrutiny.
Morell told Fox News he would welcome the opportunity to appear before the committee.