Sen. Richard Burr presses former WH Chief of Staff Jack Lew about briefing President Obama on the Benghazi attack

Lew

Here is a rough transcript of the exchange from my FNC colleague Kara Rowland:

SEN. BURR: Jack, in the Armed Services hearing last week, Secretary Panetta testified that following his and General Dempsey’s 5:00 meeting on September the 11th after the Benghazi attack, they had no further contact with the White House, and it was their understanding that you, as chief of staff, were the individual briefing the president. Is that inaccurate?

MR. LEW: Well, Senator, I did speak with the president that evening. The National Security Staff was working on the issue on a nonstop basis –

SEN. BURR: But who was — who was actually briefing the president? Were you?

MR. LEW: I was not — I was in the room when the president was briefed, but I was not briefing the president.

SEN. BURR: OK, because John Brennan testified yesterday that it wasn’t him. Secretary Panetta said it wasn’t him. In hearings, the ODNI Clapper said it wasn’t him. Acting DCI Mike Morell said it wasn’t him. Ambassador Kennedy said it wasn’t him. And the FBI said it wasn’t them. Now, we’ve eliminated a lot of people who had contacts within the intelligence community that knew firsthand what was going on in Benghazi. Let me ask you again: Who briefed the president on actually what was happening throughout this seven-hour period?

MR. LEW: Well, in the conversations that I was in, the National Security Staff was present and some of the people — (inaudible) –

SEN. BURR: Would John Brennan have been included in that?

MR. LEW: You know, you’re asking who did a briefing, and that’s different from who was in a conversation. I think if you ask people were they in conversations, there might have been a different answer.

SEN. BURR: Who was your primary point of contact in the intelligence community?

MR. LEW: As chief of staff, I didn’t usually reach out directly to the intelligence community. I worked through the National Security Staff.

SEN. BURR: Was there anybody from the intelligence community in that briefing session on a continual basis, to your knowledge?

MR. LEW: The intelligence community was in close touch with the White House, with the national security team on a near-constant basis.

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