White House defends Secretary of State Clinton on Benghazi

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday defended Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that it doesn’t make a difference what administration officials first said in explaining how  Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were slain in last September’s attack in Benghazi, Libya.

Carney told reporters at the daily press briefing that there has been an “obvious political obsession over a series of talking points” that bears no relevance to the essential issues at stake.

“No one took more seriously the fact that we lost four American lives in Benghazi than the president of the United States and the secretary of state of the United States,” Carney said.

“And whatever was said — based on information provided by the intelligence community  — on a series of Sunday shows bears no ultimate relevance” to the question of what happened and who was responsible for the attack, he added.

The talking points – long a focus of conservatives skeptical of the administration’s changing explanation of the Benghazi attack  — were at the center of a heated exchange between Clinton and freshman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) during Wednesday’s Senate hearing.

While the Benghazi hearing was the focus of most reporters’ questions, speculation about the 2016 presidential race also found its way into Wednesday’s briefing.

At one point, Carney caused a brief stir when he referred to the secretary of state as “President Clinton” rather than as “Secretary Clinton.”

He chalked that up to the fact that he had a “nice, long conversation with President Clinton – Bill Clinton – just the other day.”

Asked later about a Politico story quoting an unnamed Democrat saying that Vice President Biden is “intoxicated by the idea” of running for president in 2016, Carney dismissed the report.

“Whose words were those? The Onion?” he quipped.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read Politics



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Felicia Sonmez · January 23, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.