President Barack Obama didn’t make a single call on the night of the Benghazi terrorist attack, the White House told Congress in a letter released on Thursday. Predictably, Republican lawmakers slammed the president for his apparent lack of action.
“During the entire attack, the president of the United States never picked up the phone to put the weight of his office in the mix,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, adding that had Obama picked up a phone, at least two of the Americans killed in the attacks might still be alive because he might have been able to demand immediate U.S. aid.
More from the Washington Times:
The White House has said Mr. Obama was kept up to date on the attack by his staff, though after being alerted to the attack in a pre-scheduled afternoon meeting he never spoke again with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin E. Dempsey or then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Mr. Panetta told Congress last week that he knew immediately the attacks were a terrorist assault, though the White House downplayed that notion in the first five days after the attack.
Republican senators said they will still push for more information on who changed the talking points given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who went on the Sunday talk shows after the attacks and blamed protests against an anti-Islam video.
GOP senators on Thursday temporarily blocked a vote on the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. The Senate came up two votes short of the 60 needed to move Hagel’s nomination forward as lawmakers prepare to leave town for a week’s break. Democrats hold a 55-45 edge in the Senate.
Republicans had been blocking the confirmation of their former colleague and Vietnam veteran until they received information from the White House on President Barack Obama’s actions during the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
“We still don’t know what the president of the United States was doing the night of the attack and who he was talking to. We know who he wasn’t talking to,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report