Boehner and the Benghazi Emails: Been There, Done That?

| Mon May 13, 2013 9:55 AM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner, according to Politico, is obsessed with Benghazi. And last week, after ABC News revealed the revised talking points crafted by the Obama administration following the September 11 attack that left four Americans dead, Boehner demanded that the administration release emails related to these talking points. "The truth shouldn't be hidden from the American people behind a White House firewall," Boehner declared. "Four Americans lost their lives in this terrorist attack. Congress will continue to investigate this issue, using all of the resources at our disposal." But thanks, in part, to the Republicans, the truth isn't being hidden. Boehner and his fellow Republicans had access to those emails—and used them for a public report they issued weeks ago that scooped the ABC News story.

In March, Boehner, according to a senior administration official, was invited to a White House-arranged briefing where the emails and other Benghazi-related material could be privately reviewed. Boehner did not attend; he sent staff, who attended with other House Republicans. Asked why Boehner did not participate in this session and why he did not at that time demand the release of the emails, Brendan Buck, his press secretary, says, "This is embarrassing pushback. Do you recall the report we put out in April? The committees were compiling information as part of their investigation and when the report was done, the committees requested the release of the emails." In an April 23 letter, five GOP House committee chairs did ask the White House to turn over to their committees the documents it had allowed the GOPers to review.

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But the public release of the emails may not add much more to the Benghazi picture, for the House GOPers themselves already disclosed the guts of the emails. In that April interim report on Benghazi (which Buck noted), the House Republicans cited these emails (in footnotes 56 and 57) to note an important point: "State Department emails reveal senior officials had 'serious concerns' about the talking points, because Members of Congress might attack the State Department for 'not paying attention to Agency warnings' about the growing threat in Benghazi."

The GOPers had the story before ABC News. Boehner, though, did not demand public disclosure of the emails until after the ABC News report created new buzz about the emails and the talking points. Still, the public release of the emails—perhaps worthwhile in itself—might be moot, given that Boehner's own investigators have already told us what the emails say.