While President Barack Obama was more-than-accommodating to conservatives’ concerns over the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) targeting of right-of-center groups, he took a different tone this morning on questions surrounding his administration’s handling of the attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya. The president overtly dismissed Republican criticism on the latter issue, calling it a political sideshow.
Obama’s comments came after he was asked about recent disclosures that talking points on the attack produced by the intelligence community were later watered down to delete references to suspected ties between last September’s assault and Islamic militants. Of the angst surrounding the administration’s handling of the situation, he was dismissive and seemed perplexed.
“The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow,” the president said. “What we have been very clear about throughout was that immediately after this event happened we were not clear who exactly had carried it out, how it has occurred, what the motivations were.”
Citing confusion about these elements at the time of the attack, Obama noted that other protests surrounding the anti-Islam film were unfolding in the Middle East. Contrary to a cover-up, the president claimed that the scenario was somewhat difficult to pin down and noted that the scenario has recently been “spun up as if there’s something new to the story.”
“These so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments I was receiving at the time in my presidential daily briefing,” he added. “The whole thing defies logic.”
Watch his comments, below:
Obama, who spoke during a news conference with visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron, said it was not clear in the aftermath of the attack who was responsible and what their motives were.
He again defended his administration’s actions. The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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