On Sunday, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer made the talk show rounds in the wake of three scandals involving the Obama administration, but seemed to have the same message: that the details were “irrelevant” and Obama wants to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Pfeiffer said the legality of the Internal Revenue Service scandal was irrelevant on a broadcast of ABC’s “This Week”. Then on “Fox News Sunday,” he said what President Barack Obama had been doing the night of the attack was also irrelevant. He told host Chris Wallace that Obama was kept “up to date” and spoke of the need to improve things going forward.
“The president was kept up to date on this as it was happening throughout the entire night, from the moment it started till the end,” Pfeiffer said. “This is a horrible tragedy. These are people that he sent abroad whose lives are in risk, people who work for him. And I recognize that there’s a series of conspiracy theories the Republicans have been spinning about this since the night it happened, but there’s been an independent review of this. Congress has held hearings on this. We provided 250,000 pages of — 250,000 pages of documents up there. There’s been 11 hearings, 20 staff briefings. And everyone has found the same thing.”
“This is a tragedy,” he continued. “The question is not what happened that night. The question is what are we going to do to move forward to ensure that this doesn’t happen again? That’s why Congress should act on what the president called for earlier this week, to pass legislation to actually allow us to implement all of the recommendations of the accountability review board so we can protect our diplomats all around the world because when we send diplomats off into far-flung places, there’s an inherent level of risk. We should do what we can to mitigate that risk.”
Wallace pressed Pfeiffer for more details about Obama’s whereabouts, but Pfeiffer downplayed the importance of those details, leading to a back-and-forth dialogue between the two.
WALLACE: With all due respect, you didn’t answer my question. What did the president do that night?
PFEIFFER: He was in constant touch with his national security team and kept up to date with the events as they were happening.
WALLACE: When you say his national security team, he didn’t talk to the secretary of state except for the one time when the first attack was over. He didn’t talk to the secretary of defense, he didn’t talk to the chairman of the joint — who was he talking to?
PFEIFFER: He was talking to his national security staff, his national security council — people who would keep him up to date as these things were happening.
WALLACE: Was he in the situation room?
PFEIFFER: He was kept up to date throughout the day.
WALLACE: Do you not know whether he was in the situation room?
PFEIFFER: I don’t remember what room he was in that night. That’s a largely irrelevant fact.
WALLACE: Well —
PFEIFFER: The premise of your question is that somehow there was something that could have been done differently, OK, that would have changed the outcome here. The accountability review board has looked at this, people have looked at this. It’s a horrible tragedy what happened, and we have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.