House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce on Friday asked the State Department’s inspector general to determine who’d ordered a technician to delete part of a video of a news briefing on the Iran nuclear deal.
Royce, a Republican from Fullerton, California, asked for the investigation a day after State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the department had no way of determining who was responsible for requesting that a portion of the 2013 briefing video be deleted.
In the original video, a Fox News reporter had asked then-State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki whether the department found it acceptable to lie in order to protect its negotiations with Iran.
“I think there are times when diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress,” Psaki said.
That response, however, was deleted from the archived video. Psaki is now the White House communications director.
In tampering with this video, the Bureau of Public Affairs has undermined its mission to ‘communicate timely and accurate information with the goal of furthering U.S. foreign policy.’
Rep. Ed Royce
State Department spokesman John Kirby acknowledged Wednesday that an official had directed a video technician to omit Psaki’s statement from the briefing. By Thursday, Toner, Kirby’s deputy, was fending off questions about the department’s effort to find the responsible party by claiming officials had “hit a dead end.”
“We’ve believed we’ve carried out the necessary investigation,” Toner said. “We have hit a dead end in terms of finding out more information. If more information does become available, if we are made aware of more information about who might have been behind this request, we will of course investigate.”
Royce is determined to find out which Obama administration official told the technician to create the technical “glitch.”
“In tampering with this video, the Bureau of Public Affairs has undermined its mission to ‘communicate timely and accurate information with the goal of furthering U.S. foreign policy,’ ” he said in a Friday letter to State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. “This is all the more troubling given that the video in question dealt with hugely consequential nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Royce also asked Linick to determine whether there were other instances where State Department officials had altered the public record.
Maggie Ybarra, 202-383-6048 @MolotovFlicker