Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) said the release of White House emails showing State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland's attempts to shield the agency from Congressional inquiry over failure to heed warnings about embassy security in Benghazi made it clear then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's "fingerprints are all over these talking points."
"I think one thing that's sort of fascinating is we've had several statements from Hillary Clinton saying she wasn't involved," he said on Fox News. "Now it turns out her spokesman was involved. Ms. Nuland was writing statements saying 'You know what? Politically, this isn't going to look good.' So it sounds like Hillary Clinton's fingerprints are all over these talking points and you know, really her resignation was the beginning but she never really fully accepted culpability."
Politico reported Nuland sought to omit mentions indicating prior violence in Benghazi to protect her agency:
The newly public email chains suggest it was the State Department that was most concerned about taking the blame for the attack. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland sought changes to the talking points that would shield the agency — then led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — from congressional accusations that it had failed to properly secure the post, given the unstable situation in that area.
At one point, Nuland even wrote to a chain of administration officials relaying her concern that the talking points could be used as a cudgel against the State Department.
Politico went on to report the Friday after the attack, the CIA provided her a new draft of the talking points that removed the reference to Ansar al-Sharia and added language that says "the wide availability of weapons and experienced fighters in Libya almost certainly contributed to the lethality of the attacks."
Nuland emailed back that the draft fails to "resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership." Her language at that time would indicate Clinton.
The emails showed references to al-Qaeda, Ansar al Sharia and Islamic jihadists were scrubbed in the final edits the week after the attack, save for one reference to "extremists," and revealed heavy involvement from the State Department. Then-CIA Director David Petraeus objected to the final version of the talking points at the time, writing he would "just as soon not use them."
"A lot of misgivings about what they were going to say," Paul said. "I still don't understand their motivation, unless it was purely political not to call this terrorism. But really, you know the fact that the State Department was intimately involved in this and they were taking out factual information because they were worried about the political ramifications of that, I think that's a pretty important point."