WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that he does not know whether President Barack Obama intentionally misled the public about the nature of the September 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, backtracking from previous comments that the administration had engaged in a "cover-up."
"What we now know from congressional testimony is that the number two man in Benghazi, the deputy chief of mission, informed his superiors including the secretary of state that this was a terrorist attack," Ryan said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."
"Those of us who have had the briefings, seen the videos, know there was no protest involved. To suggest afterwards that this was the result of a spontaneous protest, we now know is not the case. So the burden of proof here is on the administration's side. It is -- why did they continue to push this kind of a story when they knew nearly immediately afterwards that that was not the case?"
"Do you believe that the White House purposely misled the American people on Benghazi to try to beat you and Mitt Romney and win the election?" host Chris Wallace asked.
"I don't know the answer to that question," Ryan responded. "Rather make a conclusion before an investigation has been completed, we just need to investigate this for the sake of good government."
As recently as last week, Ryan insisted to conservative radio that there is "no doubt" a cover-up took place, an assertion that remains on his official congressional website.
But a day after Ryan's talk radio appearance, the White House released more than 100 pages of emails that cast doubt on the Republican theory that the administration had altered its talking points about the attack for political gain.
The emails detailed revisions to the talking points that were ultimately used by UN Ambassador Susan Rice in appearances on Sunday talk shows. Although one State Department email did voice concerns about the talking points being "abused" by members of Congress to "beat up the State Department," the documents show that both the CIA and the State Department had urged revisions, with both agencies voicing concerns that the talking points not interfere with an investigation into what had taken place in Benghazi. The repeated GOP refrain that Rice had been responsible for doctoring the talking points was discredited.
Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, repeatedly attacked the Obama administration on Benghazi during the campaign.