BuzzFeed has learned that key members of President Obama’s national security team, including deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, pushed to release a comprehensive timeline of events documenting the attack that would also synthesize the views of the various government agencies into one report. The CIA also wanted the White House to put out such a timeline, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Those plans were quashed, however, when the White House Counsel’s office, which is led by Kathryn Ruemmler, advised the officials to not release any information to the public out of fear it could be used against them in any subsequent investigations and other legal complications.
The White House told BuzzFeed any suggestion that Ruemmler shot down the release of the Benghazi timeline was “off base” — but an official said the White House would not comment “on leaks out of purported internal deliberations.”
BuzzFeed’s sources said the legal advice proved frustrating for a number of officials in the president’s orbit, who felt they would have better served to put to rest controversy that has lasted nine months.