Obama Aide Pfeiffer: "Largely Irrelevant Fact" Where Obama Was During Benghazi Attack


CHRIS WALLACE, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST: Let's turn to Benghazi. And I want to ask you about one lingering question, which is the president's actions on 9/11, the night of the attack, because we don't know very much about that. We do know that in the afternoon he had already scheduled meeting with Defense Secretary Panetta as well as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey when he heard about this while they were in a meeting on an unrelated subject. He said that wanted them to deploy forces as soon as possible.

The next time that he shows up, is as Hillary Clinton says that she spoke to him at around 10:00 that night after the attack at the consulate, not as it turned out at the annex, but the attack at the consulate was -- had ended. Question, what did the president do the rest of that night to pursue Benghazi?

DAN PFEIFFER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, look, the president was kept up to date on this as it was happening throughout the entire night, from the moment it started until the very end. And because this is a critically -- this was a horrible tragedy. These are people that he sent abroad whose lives are in risk, people who work for him. And I recognize that there's a series of conspiracy theories the Republicans have been spinning about this since the night it happened, but there's been an independent review of this, congress has held hearings, we provided 250,000 pages of -- 250,000 pages of documents up there. There's been 11 hearings, 20 staff briefings. And everyone has found the same thing, this is a tragedy.

And so the question here is not what happened that night. The question is what are we going to do to move forward ensuring that this doesn't happen again. That's why Congress should act on what the president called for earlier this week, to pass legislation to allow us to actually implement all the recommendations of the independent accountability review board so we can protect our diplomats around the world, because when we send our diplomats off into far-flung places, there's an inherent level of risk. We should do what we can to mitigate that risk.

WALLACE: But with due respect, you didn't answer my question. What did the president do that night?

PFEIFFER: He was kept -- he was in constant touch that night with his national security team and kept up to date with the events as they were happening.

WALLACE: When you say his national security team, he didn't talk to the secretary of state, except for the one time when the first attack was over. He didn't talk to the secretary of defense. He didn't talk to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Who was he talking to?

PFEIFFER: He was talking to his national security staff, his National Security Council, the people who keep him up to date about briefings as they happen.

WALLACE: Was he in the Situation Room?

PFEIFFER: He was kept up to date throughout the day.

WALLACE: Do you not know whether he was in the Situation Room?

PFEIFFER: I don't remember what room the president was in on that night. And that's a largely irrelevant fact.

WALLACE: Well --

PFEIFFER: The point is -- the question is -- the premise of your question is that somehow there was something that could have been done differently, OK, that would have changed the outcome here. The accountability review board has looked at this. People have looked at it. It's a horrible tragedy, what happened, and we have to make sure it doesn't happen again.

WALLACE: Here's the point, though. The ambassador goes missing, ends up the first ambassador in more than 30 years is killed. Four Americans, including the ambassador, are killed. Dozens of Americans are in jeopardy. The president at 4:00 in the afternoon says to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to deploy forces. No forces are deployed. Where is he while all this is going on?

PFEIFFER: This has been testified to by the --

WALLACE: Well, no. No one knows where he was, or how he was involved, or who told him there were no forces --

PFEIFFER: The suggestion of your question is that somehow the president --


WALLACE: I just want to know what the answer is.

PFEIFFER: The assertions from Republicans here that somehow the president allowed this to happen or didn't take action is offensive. It is absolutely an offensive premise. And there's no evidence to support it.

Show commentsHide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives