The White House is refusing to answer questions from the House Select Committee on Benghazi about the terrorist attack in 2012 in Libya that left four Americans dead.
White House counsel, W. Neil Eggleston told Obama not to answer questions that were given to him by the House Select Committee on Benghazi because he thinks the inquiry was inappropriate and an attempt to frame the White House as uncooperative regarding the truth about Benghazi.
According to a letter sent Saturday to the House Chairman Trey Gowdy and obtained by POLITICO, Eggleston said he did not want Obama to answer the questions “because of the implications of his response on the constitutional separation of powers.”
“If the president were to answer your questions, his response would suggest that Congress has the unilateral power to demand answers from the president about his official acts,” the letter says.
The House Committee’s panel said the White House has been unhelpful towards answering questions that have yet to receive answers before the final report on the Benghazi attack is released, which is believed to be set by mid-July and has been ongoing for more than two years.
Democratic leaders criticized the committee for bringing up the questions to the White House just before the presidential conventions, after the investigation has been ongoing for two years.
Gowdy told Eggleston in 2014 that he would ask the president questions at some point during the investigation through a written inquiry. He brought it up again to Eggelston, his deputy and a White House liaison in a meeting in January. According to sources, he offered to show the White House the questions in advance as well as the underlying testimony into why these questions were asked by the panel.
Eggleston then detailed what Obama did on the night of the Benghazi attack in a letter on May 11. He said that Obama was immediately briefed by then-Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta at 5 p.m. and “immediately ordered the military to deploy all available assets.”
Eggleston’s staff denied the claim that they briefed the panel in the May 11 letter on its “specific questions as to whether there was any evidence of direction from the White House or National Security Council to delay taking action.”
“Any claim that the president was not fully engaged and informed the night of the attacks and any doubt about his direction that any and all action be taken to assist our people under attack are unfounded and belied by the facts,” the letter said.
On June 7, Gowdy sent the White House more than a dozen questions about Benghazi. Gowdy never got responses to his answers except for a response from Eggleston that said, “Your decision to send this letter raises serious questions about the legitimacy of your purported investigatory interests,” Eggleston wrote. “I told you that I would advise the President not to respond to your questions.…Your decision to send your list of questions after receiving information that answered several of them, and knowing I would advise the president not to answer, raises questions about your motives.”