(WASHINGTON) — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., described the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi controversy as a “cover up,” following exclusive reporting by ABC News that showed the State Department was involved in editing the CIA’s Benghazi talking points used in the days after the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Libya last year.
“I’d call it a cover-up,” McCain said Sunday morning on ABC’s This Week. “I would call it a cover-up in the extent that there was willful removal of information which was obvious.”
McCain criticized White House spokesperson Jay Carney for his characterization of the edits to the talking points, which were eventually used by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on five Sunday talks shows the weekend after the Benghazi attack.
“For the president’s spokesman to say, that, ‘Well, there was only words or technical changes made in those emails’ is a flat-out untruth,” McCain said. “That’s just not acceptable.”
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., disputed McCain’s assertions, saying it was “absolutely not” a cover-up, and that the talking point revisions reflected efforts to form a “consensus document that avoided all of the difficult issues.”
“I think this was the classic issue of interagency’s battle about who will say what,” Reed said this morning on This Week.
McCain also singled out former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who he suggested would have been aware of the State Department’s emails requesting changes to the talking points.
“I think the secretary of state has played a role in this,” McCain said. “She had to have been in the loop some way, but we don’t know for sure.”
McCain said Clinton should return to Capitol Hill to testify again, calling for a Congressional select committee to further investigate the issue.
“We need a select committee that interviews everybody,” McCain said. “I don’t know what level of scandal, unquote, this rises to, but I know it rises to the level where it requires a full and complete ventilation of these facts… We’re still uncovering information which frankly contradicts the original line that the administration took.”
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