Republican Rep. Darrell Issa claimed that an email he’s reviewed shows the White House decided to reach out to YouTube within hours of the Benghazi terror attack, to warn the website about the consequences of posting an anti-Islam video.
The email would suggest the White House was connecting the attack to the video almost from the outset -- though their initial claim that the attack sprung out of protests over the film would later be proven false.
According to Issa, who discussed excerpts from the otherwise classified emails on Wednesday, the email was sent at 9:11 p.m. ET on Sept. 11 to the Diplomatic Security Command Center.
According to Issa, the email said: “White House is reaching out to UTube to advise ramifications of the posting of the Pastor Jon Video.”
Issa said this email is “troubling” because it “contradicts” White House claims that the faulty storyline on the video was drawn from the intelligence community’s talking points.
The congressman also said “the email shows the White House had hurried to settle on a false narrative -- one at odds with the conclusions reached by those on the ground -- before Americans were even out of harm’s way or the intelligence community had made an impartial examination of available evidence.”
Issa, who wants the administration to declassify the email, discussed its contents as a House select committee prepares to launch its investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks and their aftermath. Ahead of that committee’s work, Issa has subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to appear before his House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next week. The State Department said Friday that Kerry cannot make that hearing, but could testify in June.
Issa has questions about this email, as well as a previously released email showing the White House held a “prep call” after the attack with then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice in which it pushed the video storyline. The White House has claimed that call pertained to protests elsewhere in the region.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Issa’s Democratic counterpart on the oversight committee and a newly chosen member of the select committee, blasted Issa for discussing the YouTube-related email.
“This latest document leak makes the strongest case yet for Democrats seeking procedures to protect against these kinds of abuses,” he said in a statement. “In what has become an irresponsible pattern, Chairman Issa unilaterally released a cherry-picked document excerpt – claiming it means one thing when in fact it means the opposite.”
A White House official also told ABC News that the email only “proves” what the administration has said – that they were concerned about the video given the protests in the region.