WASHINGTON - - Republicans are pushing ahead with their investigations of the deadly assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year -- even as President Barack Obama rejects charges of a cover-up.
The head of a House oversight committee, Republican Darrell Issa, is asking veteran diplomat Thomas Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to meet privately with committee staff. He wants them to answer questions about an independent review they conducted. The review slammed the State Department for inadequate security at the installation before the attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
Democrats say if Congress wants to talk to Pickering and Mullen, it should be at a full hearing.
Republicans are also still focusing on the talking points that were relied on by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice in the days after the attacks. Emails that were disclosed Friday showed that State Department and other senior administration officials pushed to delete references to prior warnings and to al-Qaida.
At a news conference today, Obama dismissed the focus on the talking points as a politically-driven "sideshow." He pointed out that he made a reference to "act of terror" on the day after the attacks. And he says the assessment in the talking points was similar to the daily presidential briefing he received.
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