OTR Interviews

A new Benghazi smoking gun? Email footprints lead back to the White House

Sen. Kelly Ayotte on ongoing questions surrounding Benghazi Rice briefings and more

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 29, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Trouble for the Obama administration tonight. Three Republican Senators demanding to know if the White House was behind the controversial Benghazi talking points. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte demanding the Obama administration identifY who briefed former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice before she appeared on five Sunday shows.

Senator Ayotte joins us. Nice to see you.

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE, R-N.H.: Great to see you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: The letter was sent last night.

AYOTTE: It was sent also before we got these emails.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now these emails, so tell me now what you are thinking.

AYOTTE: Here is what I am thinking, unfortunately, what we suspected from the beginning. You have -- look at the talking points, number one. The talking points that were issued never mentioned a video. The word video is nowhere in those talking points.

VAN SUSTEREN: The talking points emanated from where, the CIA?

AYOTTE: That came from the CIA. The ones that were flawed because they omitted the reference to al Qaeda, so they were flawed in and of themselves, but there is no reference to a video. And we always said where did the video reference come from? Now we know it came from the White House. Ben Rhodes, the email that went to top President Obama advisors, David Plouffe, Jay Carney, and was used to prep Susan Rice.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know that they all saw that, David Plouffe, Jay Carney, they all got this email from Ben Rhodes?

AYOTTE: It was sent to them. You have to assume they received it. And this was obviously a pretty hot topic with four brave Americans killed. They are two months out to an election. So this is the dynamic where the president in the election is obviously claiming that he been a good foreign policy president, that he had had al Qaeda on the run.

The other thing in this set of email here that's very troubling is this reference to make sure you mention that al Qaeda has been destroyed. Then you saw Ambassador Rice on every single Sunday show saying al Qaeda has been disseminated. That was nowhere in the talking points and actually is contradicted by what we know happened on that day.

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me rewind you a bit. Go back to September 6th, which was the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the president spoke, he said, al Qaeda -- I'm quoting from it -- "Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat."

AYOTTE: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's what it said. He goes on, talks about it later. That was the theme at the convention. One of many.

AYOTTE: One of many. Unfortunately, as we know, al Qaeda affiliates, the evidence is that they were involved in the attacks in Benghazi. So the references that were taken out of the talking points that would have led people to understand right from the beginning this is a terrorist attack, that was incredibly troubling. But now we know the video story was really pushed from the White House as opposed to the intel community.

Let's not forget also the CIA stations chief that was actually in Libya sent --

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: In Tripoli, though.

AYOTTE: In Tripoli.

VAN SUSTEREN: Not Benghazi, but Tripoli.

AYOTTE: But at least in Libya on the ground, much more than the people in Washington, sent that email to Acting Director Morell that day, which said, listen, this is not an escalation of protests. That was ignored as well.

I guess one question I would have, was that ignored because it didn't fit the White House talking points? It would be good to know answers from that.

VAN SUSTEREN: For the life of me, I don't understand why President Obama, on September 18th, which is -- after September 11th on the Letterman show, and on September 25th, which is even later than that, on "The View," was still going with that video thing, which is that narrative that was coming out of the White House. I don't understand why they didn't -- I didn't correct him or why he didn't correct himself.

AYOTTE: I will never understand that, either. I think that they clung to this narrative because it was a narrative leading up to the election that they had been pushing in terms of al Qaeda on the run, al Qaeda toward defeat. They clung to the video because the actual narrative -- let's not forget -- the head of the Defense Department, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said they knew right away it was a terrorist attack, yet he clung to that explanation that defies the evidence.

VAN SUSTEREN: Of course, I always bring up the fact that we are pushing on it at FOX here, and we were excluded from the State Department briefing call. They said it was an accident. We accepted it as an accident. We were accidentally left off and then we were excluded from the CIA briefing two weeks later. That was pretty deliberate. I always thought we were being punished for pursuing it. But who knows?

Anyway, Senator, nice to see you.

AYOTTE: Great to see you, Greta.