State Department expands review into doctored video

State Department doctored video to hide Iran deal
State Department doctored video to hide Iran deal

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State Department doctored video to hide Iran deal 02:18

(CNN)In an apparent about-face, the State Department announced Wednesday it would be broadening its internal investigation into the deliberate editing of a press briefing video after Secretary of State John Kerry publicly demanded an explanation for the edit.

"There are always other leads you can follow," Mark Toner, deputy State Department spokesman, told reporters. "And so given the secretary's strong interest, given Congress' strong interest, and given the media's strong interest, we've decided to continue to look at that."
The investigation will be conducted by officials in the Office of the Legal Adviser, which initially reviewed the incident and determined that the video, posted to the department's website and YouTube account, had been doctored to remove a series of questions about secret negotiations with Iran at the request of an official in the Public Affairs Bureau.
    That request was communicated to a technician in the bureau by phone, but the technician could not recall who made the request.
    On Friday, Kerry told reporters in Paris that he wanted "to find out exactly what happened and why," calling the deliberate editing of the video "stupid and clumsy and inappropriate."
    One day earlier, Kerry's primary spokesman, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs John Kirby, told reporters the matter would not be investigated further, in part because his office determined that no rules were broken.
    But the issue has been seized on by congressional Republicans, including Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and is launching his own investigation into the matter.
    On Wednesday, Toner said the State Department would provide the committee with a preliminary report that day, followed by additional information in the coming weeks.
    "What I think we'll be able to say is that we have looked at additional areas of information," Toner said. "You can guess, probably, that that includes emails, other documentation that pertains to the issue."
    "Up until this point, we have not found any evidence -- any conclusive evidence -- of what happened or why," he added.
    Previously, Toner acknowledged, the Office of the Legal Adviser had only interviewed on person -- the technician who made the edit and came forward with that information. They did not review any email or phone records, but will do so going forward.
    The department is also looking into the "four or five" people who held leadership position within the bureau in December 2013 -- the time of the incident, Toner said.
    Jen Psaki, who was the State Department's spokeswoman at the time and conducted the subsequently edited briefing, has denied any involvement, as has her deputy, Marie Harf.