GOP asks watchdog to investigate State Department video edit

GOP asks watchdog to investigate State Department video edit
© Getty Images

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) on Friday called for the State Department's inspector general to investigate the deletion of part of a video of a 2013 press briefing that addressed the Iran nuclear deal. 

The department admitted Wednesday that someone in the agency's public affairs office ordered a video technician to edit out an eight-minute portion from the recording. In the Dec. 2, 2013, briefing, a Fox News reporter asked the press secretary whether her predecessor lied about the timing of secret talks with Iran. 


Then-press secretary Jen Psaki did not confirm when the talks started, but said, "I think there are times when diplomacy needs privacy in order to progress." 

State Department officials first said the missing footage was a "glitch," before admitting it was a deliberate omission. They also say they don't know who made the request or why and that the department has hit a "dead end" in trying to figure it out. 

Republicans seized on the deletion as evidence the administration relied on a false story about the talks beginning in 2013, when moderates were elected in Iran. The U.S. and other world powers ultimately approved the deal last summer, lifting sanctions on Iran in exchange for the country curbing its ability to create nuclear weapons.

“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.’ 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 said in the June 3 letter to Inspector General Steve Linick. 

"It remains unclear why the exchange between Ms. Psaki and reporters was stricken from the video recording. How is it not possible to determine who in the Administration ordered that the video be altered, as the current spokesman has asserted?  Will there be no accountability? Have there been other instances where the State Department has altered the public record?" he wrote. 

Royce's letter follows a request on Thursday from House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (R-Utah) to Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Illegal pot farms dry up Western creeks Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington Biden confirms 30 percent global methane reduction goal, urges 'highest possible ambitions' MORE for documents and communications related to the video.

The omission has also upset journalists, who have said the State Department lied to them about when the talks started. They are asking why they were initally told the edit was a "glitch" and why the video was deleted. 

CNN anchor Jake Tapper blasted the State Department on Thursday, saying, "Just as the public has a right to know the truth, we have a right to know who lied to us and why."