A top Republican senator blasted President Obama on Monday after newly released footage of an interview conducted a day after the Libya consulate attack shows the president appearing to refrain from describing the attack as "terrorism."
CBS News posted the full exchange from its Sept. 12 "60 Minutes" interview on Sunday, with just two days to go before the presidential election. In it, Obama was asked directly if he thought the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was a terrorist attack.
"Well it’s too early to tell exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans," Obama said. "And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in a statement released Monday, accused Obama of contradicting "the narrative he tried to create in the second presidential debate," in which Obama asserted that he had alluded to "acts of terror" in speaking from the Rose Garden on the day of the Libya attack.
"This video from CBS News, which only came to light yesterday, would have played an important role in setting the record straight and put to rest the false narratives the Obama administration has tried to create," Graham said.
He also accused CBS News of misleading its viewers.
“Some CBS reporters have tried to report on the Benghazi debacle and have brought important information to light," Graham said. "Unfortunately, this important information was withheld from the American people who deserved to hear what President Obama said.”
Republicans have made the Libya attack an issue in trying to undercut Obama's foreign policy record. A local Libyan extremist group known as Ansar al-Sharia is suspected of carrying out the strike.
In addition to questioning the Obama administration's confusing explanation of the attack, Republicans have pointed to evidence that requests for more diplomatic security in Libya were ignored and that it was clear in advance that the consulate was unable to withstand a coordinated attack.