Obama dismisses Benghazi talking-points criticism as ‘sideshow’

President Obama on Monday dug in against tough questions from Republicans about the administration's handling of its talking points in the days after the attack on the American mission in Benghazi, Libya.

Responding to reports Friday that the administration and the State Department made more significant changes to the talking points than it previously acknowledged, Obama accused Republicans of playing politics and described the talking-points criticism as a "sideshow" that "dishonors" diplomats who put themselves in harm's way.

"The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow," Obama said, adding: "Suddenly, three days ago, this gets spun up as if there's something new to the story. There's no there there."

Obama again said Republican are playing politics with something that shouldn't be political. He noted that Republicans have used the issue for fundraising, as the Post first reported Friday.

Obama noted that the e-mails published Friday had been released by the White House months ago and scoffed at the notion that there was any kind of cover-up.

"The whole thing defies logic, and the fact that this thing keeps getting churned out quite frankly has a lot to do with political motivations," Obama said.

He said diplomats shouldn't be the subject of political gamesmanship.

"We dishonor them when we turn things like this into a political circus," he said.

Updated at 12:30 p.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Aaron Blake · May 13, 2013