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House Select Committee On Benghazi Member, Rep. Mike Pompeo, On The Release of the Benghazi Report Today

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The transcript:

HH: Joined now by United States Congressman, Representative Mike Pompeo of Kansas’ 4th Congressional District. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is a graduate of West Point. He is also a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi. Congressman Pompeo, thanks for joining us on short notice.

MP: Great to be with you, Hugh.

HH: I understand the 800 page report is coming out today, and you and Representative Jordan have filed a separate report?

MP: Yes, sir. That’s correct. The full committee’s report will be out this morning, frankly, in an hour or so. It’ll be available online for everyone to read. And then separate from that, Representative Jim Jordan and I chose to highlight a number of facts that we believe are most important for the American people to draw their attention to those things that we believe demonstrate beyond a doubt that Secretary Clinton put politics ahead of the Americans in Benghazi. And we thought that was of sufficient importance that we wanted to write separately about that.

HH: I will come back to that in a moment. I first have to ask you about the commander of the Marines telling in the report released to NBC that his troops were ordered in and out of uniforms four times. What is that about?

MP: Hugh, on the evening of the attack, in Washington, D.C., the picture was incredibly different than it was in Benghazi, Libya. In Benghazi, Libya, these folks were in a firefight for their lives. In Washington, D.C., on a telephone conference call called a SVTC, Secretary Clinton was on the call for part of the time, but the deputies all across the government were talking about things like whether our soldiers could go into the country in uniform or out of uniform. They were seeking permission from the Libyan government, frankly, which didn’t exist, and certainly didn’t protect our guys that night. They were talking about things that were totally superfluous to the primary goal at the time, which was to find the U.S. Ambassador who was then missing, and rescue the 30-plus Americans who were on the ground there.

HH: So why were they ordered in and out of uniform four times?

MP: You know, I don’t think we ever got the answer to the reason they were ordered in and out of uniform. What there was, was this big debate. The State Department didn’t want it to look like it was an invasion of Libya. They were hypersensitive to looking like there were Americans coming into Libya when this was truly a terrorist haven. Somehow, they had this idea that a big American force in uniform would present some risk that the Libyans would protest, because we were invading their country. In fact, the military folks knew that that wasn’t going to help keep our soldiers safe. And there was this debate back and forth about what the appropriate attire was for going to rescue Americans while our embassy was burning and mortars were falling in Benghazi. It is new, it is important, and it is inexplicable.

HH: Do we have a transcript of that videoconference?

MP: We do not.

HH: And so all the testimony about the videoconference is oral testimony based on recollection?

MP: That’s correct. We were able to interview a good number of people who were there. There is a memorandum by now-Ambassador Mull, who took notes after the meeting. It shows what the ten points were that were takeaways from the meeting. So we have contemporaneous information, but we do not have a transcript of that meeting.

HH: And do we know how much of the meeting Secretary Clinton was involved in?

MP: We do not. The meeting ran something between an hour and two hours, and she was there for a good part of it. We do not know exactly which parts of the meeting she attended.

HH: Would you guess, would you estimate, not guess, based upon all the evidence she was there for at least 30-45 minutes of it?

MP: Well, hard to know, Hugh, but I’ll say this. There is no evidence that at any time did she do what a leader would do that night, which is say why on Earth are we talking about whether we’re in uniform. Why on Earth are we talking about deployed forces that the Secretary of Defense has already ordered deployed? Why are we screwing around with these things that don’t have any opportunity to help us rescue my, what would have been her ambassador? Instead, she participated in meetings that clearly delayed the American response.

HH: Representative Pompeo, if Secretaries Clinton and Panetta at Defense, State and Defense, and President Obama had moved with dispatch to order Marines in uniform, could they have gotten to Benghazi before Ty Woods and Glenn Dougherty were killed?

MP: Well, we’ll never know the answer to that. I don’t know the answer to that. I do know this. They didn’t try. At no time, Hugh, was there ever a U.S. armed aircraft en route to Benghazi, Libya. At no time. When the final mortars fell, Hugh, one last fact. These aren’t conclusion. We’re being accused of being political. These are just facts. When the final mortars fell, there was not a single wheel turning moving an aircraft with U.S. soldiers toward Libya. Not one when the final mortars fell. There was political spin taking place, but the wheels weren’t spinning.

HH: Well, and how long between the first report in Washington and that final mortar elapsed?

MP: Some seven-plus hours, Hugh.

HH: Wow. That’s, and who rescued our Libyan annex? It is reported by NBC that Qaddafi-ites rescued our annex people. Is that true?

MP: Yes, sir, that is true. No help from Washington ever arrived. The amazing work of a CIA case officer on the ground in Benghazi calling around, seeking help, demanding that he figure this out, solved the problem by reaching out to a group that was then known as the Libyan Military Intelligence. And they showed up with about 50 gun trucks and rescued our personnel that night.

HH: What was the substance of your 40 page additional report that you and Congressman Jordan authored?

MP: Hugh, what is shows is that you know, we were in the throes of a close presidential election. And the administration was in a desperate hurry to sweep Libya under the rug. It’s why we weren’t prepared. They didn’t want to send more folks to Benghazi, Libya. The tide of war was receding, according to them. And then that night, again, politics enter. They are literally, Ben Rhodes is talking about politics before we even have our folks out of Benghazi, Libya. And then of course, they told the story that fit the political narrative of GM being alive and Osama bin Laden being dead, that is that radical Islamic terrorism had been defeated. They told that story for weeks publicly, when in fact Secretary Clinton within hours of the attack was telling her daughter that she knew this was a terrorist attack. It was, at every turn, Hugh, it was their political legacy over the folks who were on the ground in Benghazi.

HH: It is also being reported by Stephen Hayes that President Obama rejected the presidential daily briefing the next day, refused to have it orally or did not read the written report. Can you confirm or deny that?

MP: I cannot.

HH: And so do we have any idea, yet, whether or not he accepted it?

MP: I can’t answer that, Hugh.

HH: There are also reports that you were obstructed in the course of this investigation by Secretary Clinton and President Obama. Is that true, Representative Pompeo?

MP: Yes, sir. At every turn, the administration, Secretary Clinton, who was no longer part of the administration, and the Democrats on our panel threw up every roadblock to our committee being able to do its fact-finding task. It was deeply political. In fact, Hugh, we got documents just yesterday from the Department of Defense with respect to where assets were aligned. And so while I can tell your listeners today we have a lot of new information that I think is very important to America and to the families of the four dead Americans, there are still gaps in our knowledge that I regret we were unable to resolve.

HH: The assets and the ability, again, I’m focused on the night of the attack. The first call comes in and seven hours elapses. I believe that’s what you tell me, before it ends. So the first notice to Washington, D.C., seven hours fall. They don’t know that the attack is over, and no wheel spins. What was Secretary Panetta doing?

MP: So Secretary Panetta as early as 7pm that night Washington time, the attack would have taken place at 3:42pm Washington time, Secretary Panetta went over to the White House at about 5pm for his regular daily visit to the White House. Within a couple of hours, it may have been 90 minutes, he issued an order to go. He was unequivocal. His testimony, which you’ll be able to see, says go. Do what you have to. Go rescue these people. His orders are unambiguous. And then we have this…

HH: When does he do that, Congressman? Excuse me, when does Panetta say go?

MP: So it’s around 7pm Washington D.C. time on September 11th, 2012.

HH: And when do we finally go?

MP: Well, I can tell you that five hours after that, there’s not a wheel turning. The only asset that was ever deployed was an unarmed drone that did make it over top during the events that night. No armed aircraft was ever deployed in the direction of Benghazi, Libya. Hugh, the storyline here is that there was no effort. No one tried. Had it been your son or daughter, or your husband that was there, not just the four who were killed, but there were 30-plus folks there. Had it been one of your family members there, and you watched the U.S. Government fail to move Heaven and Earth, not to even try to rescue them, I mean, you would find that kind of political expediency unacceptable and morally reprehensible.

HH: So what does Panetta say? What happened in those five hours?

MP: They don’t have an answer for that. We talked to a number of military leaders. You’ll see good portions of their transcripts today. You’ll see. They said well, we were working to get everybody going. Three forces were designated to prepare to deploy. Each one of those three forces missed its agreed to timeline for deployment. That is, these forces are the ready forces for the United States of America. And each one of them missed the timeline in order to depart from wherever it was they were located that night. They never, and at no time did we see any evidence that the president of the United States, the Secretary of State had their hair on fire saying what the heck is going on? Why aren’t we moving faster? We saw no evidence that those calls or those emails or that information ever rose to the top of their importance pile that night while they were trying to figure out how they’re going to message the catastrophe that was Benghazi.

HH: Is this all new information, Representative Pompeo?

MP: The majority of what I’ve told you this morning is new. Already out, but new from our committee was the fact that Secretary Clinton very clearly knew this was an attack by Ansar al-Sharia and told the public a different story. But that was work that our committee did. It had been publicly available because of Secretary Clinton’s testimony a few months back.

HH: The five hour delay between Secretary Panetta’s order to go and the end of the attack, is that new information?

MP: The sequence of events, who said what to whom, is laid out in great detail. That has not been done before.

HH: And so when we see spin from Democrats and Secretary Clinton that there’s nothing new here, what’s your reaction?

MP: It’s remarkable to observe the Democrats also behave politically during this process. You know, they need to be asked the question, Hugh, did you, is it important that the American people see the emails from Ambassador Stevens? Is it important that they knew that our government met and talked about whether soldiers should be in uniform or not while people were dying in Benghazi, Libya? The fact that this attack was so well preplanned, that this was truly not just a single attack at the State Department, but planned in detail at both the State Department facility and at the Annex was unknown. We didn’t know who had evacuated the American people. The Democrats ought to try and answer for why they didn’t want the families of the four dead Americans to know what I judge are important facts.

HH: Last question, Representative Jordan was on CNN earlier. He said you received testimony that the Benghazi annex was a suicide mission. Is that correct?

MP: That is correct. It was well known that this was a high risk operation, and that the resources they needed were not being made available to keep them secure. Indeed, Dianne Feinstein has said it was preventable. The security situation in Benghazi was a wreck, and Secretary Clinton knew it.

HH: Secretary Clinton knew it?

MP: Sure.

HH: No doubt in your mind she knew it?

MP: She had been, there’s a memo from a senior official at the Department of Near East Affairs in August of 2012, her name is Beth Jones, which lays out the security risks associated with the facility in Benghazi, Libya.

HH: I look forward to reading the report in detail. Thank you for joining me. It is breaking news. It is news.

MP: Thank you, Hugh.

HH: Congressman Pompeo, I appreciate it.

End of interview.


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