House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is asking the White House and State Department to hand over emails related to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, which House committees were able to see, but not keep or share, during their investigation into the response to the attack.
"Last I remember, the president said, and I'll quote, 'Would be happy to cooperate with the Congress in any way the Congress wants,'" Boehner said. "Well, this is his chance to show his cooperation so that we can get to the truth of what happened in Benghazi."
Boehner is asking for two sets of emails, both of which are related to whether the White House tried to change the initial characterization of the attack in Benghazi from a potential terrorist attack at the hands of Islamic radicalists to a spontaneous demonstration in response to an anti-Islam YouTube video.
During a press briefing, House Speaker John Boehner addressed Wednesday's hearing on Benghazi and demanded that the President release unclassified emails mentioned during the probe, saying "The truth shouldn't be hidden from the American people behind a White House firewall."
The emails, according to Boehner, show a senior State Department official telling her superiors that the Libyan ambassador said the attack "was conducted by Islamic terrorists." This email was sent the day after the attack, which was days before U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said on Meet the Press and other Sunday news shows that it was the result of a spontaneous demonstration.
The second set of emails, Boehner said, were between the White House and State Department officials, where they "insisted on removing all references to the terrorist attack to protect the State Department for providing inadequate security."
Asked if he thought the White House was lying about the response to the attack, Boehner said, "You can characterize it any way you want, but somebody clearly decided they didn't like the references to Islamic terrorism and made changes in this document."
Boehner's comments come after an emotional House committee hearing Wednesday into the Obama administration’s response to the attack, in which Gregory Hicks -- the former deputy chief of mission in Libya for the United States and the No. 2 diplomat there -- provided testimony saying he was "stunned" when the Obama administration was still claiming the attack was related to the viral anti-Islam video when they had been told otherwise.
"My jaw dropped, and I was embarrassed," Hicks told the committee Wednesday when he was asked about Rice's comments on the talk shows.
Hicks told the committee he asked Undersecretary of State Beth Jones after Rice's interviews why they were saying "there was a demonstration when the embassy had reported only an attack."
Hicks said Jones answered by saying, "I don't know," but "the sense I got was that I needed to stop the line of questioning."
This story was originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 12:56 PM EDT