Alex Witt   |  May 11, 2013

GOP congressman: Benghazi 'isn't about politics'

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-KS, opines to MSNBC’s Alex Witt about the non-aesthetic, non-cursory changes over the White House’s Benghazi talking points. Rep. Pompeo comments on Amb. Thomas Pickering’s remarks shooting down the idea of a Benghazi “cover-up.” He also pledges his continued persistence in investigating the events in Benghazi.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> revealing e-mail have come to light as the blame game over the attack in ben za gighazi infence ties.

>>> plus i'll talk to an official who was at the home of one of the cleveland victims when she returned home.

>>> it's high noon in the northeast, 9:00 a.m . in the west. welcome to "weekends with al elects wit."

>>> the white house says republicans are playing politics as new details surface in the benghazi attacks. at issue, the disclosure of e-mai e-mails. nbc news has confirmed that the white house with input from the state department officials had edited talking points about the benghazi attacks 12 times in the hours following the incident. now, white house spokesman jay carney acknowledges the edits but says they were not political in nature.

>> the fact there are inputs is always the case in a process like this, but the only edits made by anyone here at the white house were stylistic and nonsubstantive. they corrected the description of the building or the facility in benghazi from consulate to diplomatic facility.

>> republicans are asking for investigations into the irs. the agency apologized friday after some employees of their cincinnati office were found to have flagged groups with the words tea party or patriot ahead of the 2012 election. those groups received extra scrutiny during the tax exempt application process, including being asked to provide a list of donors. for more on the controversy surrounding benghazi and where it may be headed, i want to bring in the republican from kansas. representative, nice to see you. thanks for joining us.

>> alex, thank you for having me on the show today.

>> let's talk about this as we just played that clip from white house press secretary jay carney saying that the white house only made some stylistic edits to the talking points about benghazi . what's your response to that?

>> well, you know, the talking points are important because we had a major national security failure. we have got an ambassador who was killed and three other americans who were killed. the changes that were made to those e-mails weren't saesthetic. they removed any reference to extremism and began to help shape the narrative about this video, which the administration knew, the intelligence collection community knew immediately that this wasn't about a video. this was radical extremism that took down this facility in benghazi , and they knew it immediately. and state department and white house put out a document that didn't reflect the reality on the ground as they knew it at the time.

>> so what's the supposition from your vantage point on why they would do that?

>> look, we can go to motive, we can speak late about motive, but we know this much. we know that the political actors in the process removed the information that the intelligence collection people on the ground knew. we heard the testimony this week from the person who was then in charge after the death of ambassador stevens, mr. hicks. we heard his testimony. his jaw dropped when he saw what susan rice was talking about on the sunday shows reflecting these political changes, and they're important, alex. they're important because we have to make sure this never happens again. for me this isn't about politics. this is about uncovering a series of fact that is led to oon enormous national security problem. to alter the communications about what happened that night is an enormous failure of leadership and we need to hold the folks who did that accountable.

>> as you well know, ambassador thomas pinkering co-authored the most ex tentative investigation of the attacks and he shot down the idea there was any sort of cover-up. let's take a listen.

>> i believe in fact, the accountability review board did its work well. i think that the notion of a, quote, cover-up has all the elements of pulitzer prized fiction attached to it.

>> when you hear that can you blame americans who wonder why that isn't good enough for republicans?

>> i have a lot of respect for mr. pickering. he's done some great work through the times. his accountability review board just got this wrong. they did not ever even speak with the secretary of state. they got the facts as they unfolded wrong. in some cases there were folks inside the diplomatic corps that were told to be very careful when they spoke to the accountability review board. the political actors ultimately seized control of the information that was made available to mr. pickering. and so whether you call it a cover-up or a mistake, what's very clear is that the political actors in the prove scess took really good intelligence and hid it and kept it hidden from the public's view for a very long time. most importantly, how we make sure when the intelligence community collects information about threats in the future, that we don't have four dead people as a direct result of taking this intelligence information and not acting appropriately in response to it.

>> all right np n.w now, you mentioned state department . secretary of hillary clinton was at the helm and this week karl rove 's super pac put out an ad attacki attacking hillary clinton .

>> a 22-year-old veteran intimidated for daring to blow the whistle on hillary clinton 's watch. how could this happen? why did she blame a video? was she part of a cover-up?

>> that's strong stuff. but do attacks like this undermine conservatives who claim they are just looking for answers and they're not playing politics.

>> i haven't had a chance to see that commercial before. it's the first i'd seen that. i can tell you what i'm doing. i'm a veteran. i served our country in uniform. i now have a constitutional duty as a member of the intelligence committee in congress. we've got to figure out pre precisely what happened and share that information with the american people . that's the mission. it's my ultimate goal. where the investigation leads to i can't answer that series of questions just yet but we're going to. we're going to continue to investigate this.

>> meaning more hearings? you're going to have more hearings?

>> absolutely. there was a call from mr. hicks that came in at 9:00 p.m . eastern time talking about the fact he'd received a call from the prime minister of libya saying that the ambassador had died, and he never received a phone call back from the state department . i mean, there are still many questions about what took place on the evening there where this ambassador was killed and then later in the morning where we had others who fell as well. we've got to get answers to those questions. this isn't about politics. this is about uncovering the facts surrounding a major national security failure, and we have an obviousligation to get to the bottom of those.