The scandals facing the White House — particularly the Benghazi attack of last Sept. 11 — will be corrosive to Barack Obama’s presidency, Republican strategist Karl Rove tells Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview.
“These things will be corrosive,” Rove, who helped George W. Bush twice win the White House, tells Newsmax. “They'll eat away at the president's rating. We'll see it over time and, particularly, as Congress asks more questions in the weeks ahead.
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“This stuff is only starting to seep in,” Rove adds. “It will take a while for these things to sort of sink in. I am not surprised that it hasn’t begun to impact his job approval just yet.”
Rove, who also served as deputy chief of staff in the Bush White House, is a Fox News analyst. His latest book is ‘Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight.”
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Most troubling for Rove is how the Obama administration has grossly mismanaged the information — before and after — surrounding the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“The West Wing was complicit in the Benghazi lie,” Rove declares to Newsmax. “And, look, I believe that, ultimately, the president is responsible for setting the tone.”
He noted how U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice went on five Sunday morning talks shows five days after the attacks — working from talking points that were heavily edited largely at the request of the State Department — and said that the assaults began as a peaceful protest against an anti-Muslim film that was later “hijacked” by militants.
“You don’t send out Susan Rice to go on five Sunday morning talk programs unless somebody in the West Wing has said, ‘Let's send her out’ — and somebody in the West Wing has said this is what she needs to say or said, ‘O.K., that's an interesting idea. You ought to go ahead and say that.’”
He says that the controversies — which also include the targeting of tea party and conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service and the recent secret seizure of telephone records of editors and reporters at The Associated Press — point to a haughty commander in chief.
“I do see an arrogance, a belief that the rules somehow don't apply to him — that the norms that other presidents have abided by should not be respected and that he is free to do something that he would criticize in others,” Rove said.
“Do you believe that if the Bush administration had gone after The New York Times in the same fashion that President Obama went after the AP and Fox News that then-Senator Obama would not have been on the floor of the Senate raising hell? Of course he would have.
“There's lots of things that he has done that are inappropriate.”
But the most egregious will always be Benghazi, Rove says.
“This involves the president himself,” he declares to Newsmax. “He is the commander in chief, and at 4:08 p.m. on the afternoon on Sept. 11 in Washington, our government received word that attack was underway on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi.
“At 5 p.m., the president was told about this by the Secretary of Defense [Leon Panetta] and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff [Gen. Martin Dempsey], who were in the office for a half-hour meeting on another subject.
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“The president ordered them to deploy whatever forces were necessary,” Rove adds. “They later testified that was the last contact they had with the president that night — and we now know that no forces were deployed.
“The president didn't say: ‘I'm going to pick up the phone and call the president of Libya and say: Our facility's under attack. You have an international responsibility to protect our people. What are you doing?’ He talks to him for the first time ever the next morning to say thank you for returning the body of our dead ambassador.
“This is unacceptable,” Rove continues. “Where was the president? What was he doing? Who concocted this lie that was told to the American people? We know that it's a total, complete fabrication, a lie — and we still don’t know who was the person who authored that and told her to go say that?
“It's somebody sitting in the West Wing of the White House — and their motivation was to protect the president against criticism that the war on terror was not over and that this was a terrorist attack.”
In his wide-ranging exclusive Newsmax interview, Rove also says:
Editor's Note: See Excerpts from Karl Rove's Interview with Newsmax
- His American Crossroads super PAC has applied to the Internal Revenue Service for nonprofit status “and three years later, that process has not ended for us.”
- The Justice Department “picked James Rosen out and tried to make an example of him” when it obtained a warrant to gain access to the Fox News reporter’s telephone records and emails in a 2009 probe of a former State Department contractor who later was charged with disclosing national defense information.
- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be “a serious contender” should she run for president in 2016. But “my head says she runs; my gut says she doesn’t.”
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