Former White House official and current senior adviser to the Obama campaign David Axelrod struggled Sunday to get the facts straight on what the President knew and when he knew it about the cause of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya on Sept. 11.
In a terse interview on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace Axelrod defended Vice President Biden’s claim during Thursday’s debate that the White House did not know that the consulate had requested more security before it was attacked and attempted to blame the State Department for failing to take action.
“There’s no doubt that some of these matters went into the security department at the state security agency at the State Department, but it didn’t come to the white house and that what is the vice president was responding to,” Axelrod claimed.
Axelrod tried to shift blame off of the President, saying that he was in contact with his national security advisers during his campaign trip to Las Vegas throughout the evening of the attack and said he was only responsible for what happened in the sense that he’s responsible for everything that happens to the United States because he is the President. But in the specific case of the communication breakdown that led to the death of U.S. abassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans, the State Department is at fault Axelrod said, before craftily claiming that this issue isn’t about “blaming” anyone.
Axelrod also tried to rewrite history by claiming that no one ever said that the attack was not in response to a vile YouTube video of the Prophet Muhammad.
“It isn’t us or anyone else who is suggesting that that’s what the intelligence was at the time,” he said. “For example, when Secretary Rice, Ambassador Rice appeared on your program and other programs, anyone would have said the same thing that she said because that was the intelligence we were receiving,” he claimed, pointing out that CIA Director Ethan Klapper and other officials at the State Department were on the record as having made similar comments.
But as Wallace pointed out, Axelrod’s statement contradicts the State Department’s claims from last week that it was never State’s opinion that the video caused the siege.
Axelrod additionally tried to claim that the day after the assault Obama began calling it a terrorist attack, which was also false.
He then attempted to blame GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for the media attention surrounding the issue.
Taking a page from Obama for America Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter, Axelrod said, “There’s no doubt he [Romney] is working hard to exploit this issue” and Romney should back off and “allow this investigation to run and get to the bottom of it.”
At which point Wallace jumped in to point out that, “Susan rice came on this show and five others and gave the American people a story that turned out not to be true, and you’re saying we shouldn’t discuss this, that we should wait for the investigation to be completed?”
Caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar Axelrod snapped at show’s host, telling him, “Chris, calm down. That’s obviously not what I am saying” before accusing Romney again of “trying to brazenly exploit” the attack for his benefit in the final stretch of the campaign.
The conversation then turned to the upcoming presidential debate on Tuesday and the latest poll numbers before ending a few minutes later.