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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 7th, 2014
02:36 PM ET

Rep. Gowdy: CIA director Morell wasn't telling the truth about no political pressure in Benghazi hearing

(CNN) – Former acting Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morell testified before the House Intelligence Committee last month, saying the Benghazi CIA station chief e-mailed three possibilities for what had motivated the 2012 attack: the anniversary of 9/11, revenge for the death of a senior al Qaeda leader in Pakistan, and an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube.

Morell also denied any kind of cover-up or political influence behind the edits he made to those now-infamous talking points used by the White House.

But Rep. Trey Gowdy, who is leading a House select committee investigating the Benghazi attack, says Morell's testimony leaves out some key points, and calls on Morell to explain certain edits.

"...why you took out the word terrorist and put in the word extremist, why you sanitized and washed out all the criticism of the State Department, why you changed the word attack to demonstration," said Gowdy. "Every single change that Mike Morell made was calculated to cast the administration in a more favorable light."

Asked specifically if Gowdy doesn't believe Morell's testimony that he felt no political pressure to change the talking points, the GOP congressman says: "In a word, yes. I'm saying I don't believe him."

"His testimony has been something of an evolution," says Gowdy.

"I am disappointed with Congressman Gowdy's comments," Morell told CNN Wednesday.

"I was hopeful that the House Investigative Committee would come to its task with an open mind and with a desire to find the truth, but it appears that at least Mr. Gowdy has already made up his mind on certain points," says the former CIA official.

Morell says Gowdy also "has a number of his facts wrong."

"In editing the talking points, I never changed "terrorist" to "extremist" and I never changed "attack" to "demonstration." My recent testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, which is now widely available, makes very clear who changed what in the talking points," said Morell.

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