(WASHINGTON) — In a combative briefing with reporters Friday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the White House was not heavily involved in the development of talking points related to the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi last year, claiming that any changes made were “extremely minimal and nonsubstantive,” and he continued to argue that the talking points stemmed from the intelligence community.
“You told us that the only changes that were made were stylistic. Is it a stylistic change to take out all references to previous terror threats in Benghazi,” ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked Carney at the White House press briefing Friday afternoon.
“What I was referring to was the talking points that the CIA drafted and sent around to which one change was made, and I accept that ‘stylistic’ may not precisely describe a change of one word to another,” Carney said in response.
“Ultimately, these were intelligence community talking points,” Carney later added about the talking points, which he said “The intelligence community has to sign off of and believe represent the intelligence community’s view of what they knew at that time about what happened.”
ABC News exclusively obtained 12 different versions of the Benghazi talking points that show they were extensively edited from the initial draft stage through the final version distributed to Congress and U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who used the talking points on Sunday shows following the attacks. Summaries of White House and State Department e-mails detailed specific input given by State Department officials throughout the editing process.
Carney said that the disclosure of the e-mails regarding the attack in Benghazi are “reflective of ongoing attempts to politicize a tragedy” by Republicans.
Carney pointed out in his press briefing that lawmakers have had access to the e-mails since earlier this year. House Speaker John Boehner has called on the White House to make public the State Department e-mail exchanges made on the day of the attack in Benghazi.
“Last November, the president said that he would be happy to cooperate in any way Congress wants,” Boehner said Thursday. “This is his chance to show his cooperation so we can get to the truth of what happened in Benghazi.”
In March, White House officials extended an invitation to the House Intelligence Committee, Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to view the e-mails. Boehner did not attend the meeting but one staffer for the House Speaker was in attendance, a spokesman for Boehner confirmed to ABC News.
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