Today on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace pressed David Axelrod on the question of how soon, and in what ways, President Obama tried to get to the bottom of the nature of the attack in Benghazi. As a predicate for the question, Wallace pointed out that on the day of the attack, the State Department and the intelligence community were presenting conflicting views about whether the attack was spontaneous or planned. An engaged president would immediately have tried to sort this matter out so he would know what the U.S. was dealing with.
Here are the key exchanges between Wallace and Axelrod:
Q. How soon after the attack did the President meet with the National Security Council, with people from state, with people from the…, the Director of National Intelligence, with all of the various people to try to sort out what happened in Benghazi?
A. Look. We are sorting out what happened there. Understand that the President the day after the attack called it an act of terror and charged everyone with responsibility for getting to the bottom of what happened.
Axelrod’s answer is clearly not responsive. He not only declines to answer the “how soon” part, he doesn’t even say that Obama has ever met with those about whom Wallace inquired.
So Wallace tried again:
Q. Yes, the president made a statement and then he went to a fundraiser in Nevada. Question: Before he went to the fundraiser in Nevada, did he meet with his National Security Council to try to sort out the shifting stories. Because State says they never said it was a spontaneous demonstration; Intel, you are quite right, did. Did he meet with the National Security Council before he went campaigning in Nevada?
A. Chris, I assure you that the president was in contact with all those who had information and responsibility in the national security chain about this incident.
Here, Axelrod partially answers the earlier question, claiming that Obama has had contact with the relevant players. But he still won’t say how soon Obama had such contact. And he won’t say whether Obama met with the National Security Council (or anyone else) about the attack in Benghazi before heading to Nevada to campaign.
As Eliana Johnson says, given Axelrod’s inability to produce a straightforward answer to the question, it’s pretty clear the answer is “no.”
Here is the video; note how tired and dispirited Axelrod looks: