President Barack Obama did not speak with Libyan leaders as the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was under way last September, the White House acknowleged Thursday in a letter to lawmakers.
White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler said then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did reach out to Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf at Obama’s request on the same day the attack began, but Obama didn’t personally call the Libyan leader until the following night.
“Secretary Clinton called Libyan President Magariaf on behalf of the president on the evening of September 11, 2012 to coordinate additional support to proect Americans in Libya and access to Libyan territory. At that time, President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation,” Ruemmler wrote. “The President spoke to President Magariaf on the evening of September 12.”
The letter (posted here) was a response to a query Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) sent to the president on Tuesday, asking: “During the eight hours the U.S. mission was under attack, did you personally speak with any officials in the Libyan government to request assistance for our American personnel?”