- Born in Massachusetts on August 31, 1980, Tommy Vietor earned a BA in philosophy from Kenyon College in 2002. In the summer of 2004, he turned down a job offer from the John Kerry presidential campaign, and chose instead — on the recommendation of Chicago political figures David Axelrod and Pete Giangreco — to work as […]
Born in Massachusetts on August 31, 1980, Tommy Vietor earned a BA in philosophy from Kenyon College in 2002. In the summer of 2004, he turned down a job offer from the John Kerry presidential campaign, and chose instead — on the recommendation of Chicago political figures David Axelrod and Pete Giangreco — to work as a media professional for Barack Obama, an Illinois state senator who was making his first run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Vietor subsequently served as: the Iowa Press Secretary with Obama For America (OFA) — the predecessor to Organizing For America and Organizing For Action — from January 2007 to January 2008; OFA’s Rapid Response Spokesman in the Greater Chicago Area from January through November of 2008; Assistant Press Secretary for the Obama White House from January 2009 to January 2011; and National Security Spokesman and Special Assistant to the President from January 2011 through March 2013.
In March 2013, Vietor and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau co-founded Fenway Strategies LLC, a San Francisco-based firm specializing in strategic communications, speechwriting, and media strategy. In 2016, Vietor became a regular co-host of the political podcast Keepin’ It 1600, along with fellow Obama administration alumni Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, and Jon Lovett. Shortly after the November 2016 presidential election, Vietor, Lovett, and Favreau co-founded the podcast company Crooked Media and became co-hosts of a program titled Pod Save America. Vietor also hosts a separate podcast covering global issues and policy-making decisions, titled Pod Save the World.
Vietor’s Remarks Regarding the Overthrow of Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi
Vietor spoke strongly in favor of the Obama administration’s decision to lead a protracted NATO bombing campaign against Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 — a campaign that lent support to opposition rebels consisting of ISIS, Ansar al-Sharia, and other local militant groups — at a time when Qaddafi no longer posed any threat to American national security and the Libyan economy was thriving. When some of President Qaddafi’s high-level officials – including Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa – defected in April 2011, Vietor said that “Moussa Koussa’s decision shows which way the wind is blowing in Tripoli.” Later that same month, Vietor stated that the key to ultimate success in Libya was “continued messaging to Qaddafi’s inner circle that the writing is on the wall.” He added that “tightening the squeeze on Qaddafi as a part of an international coalition is in our interest, and that’s what we’re going to do.” In May 2011, as the U.S. continued to use armed Predator drones to fire missiles at Libyan government forces, Vietor said, “We will not halt our current operations.” By the time the Obama-led bombing campaign was finished and Qaddafi had been driven from power, Libya’s economy had shrunk by 42% and its oil production was down by at least 80%. According to Foreign Policy In Focus, the Obama strategy had “plunged” Libya “into chaotic unrest” and “turned [it] into a cauldron of anarchy” where jihadism was running amuck and ISIS was gaining an increasingly secure foothold.
Vietor’s Remarks Regarding the Benghazi Terrorist Attacks
Vietor spoke evasively and untruthfully about the events of September 11, 2012, when a U.S. diplomatic mission and a nearby CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya were infamously attacked by a large group of heavily armed Islamic terrorists with ties to such jihadist organizations as al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia. By the time the violence was over, four Americans were dead. In the aftermath of those attacks, the Obama administration persistently and falsely characterized them not as acts of terrorism, but rather, as spontaneous, unplanned uprisings that had evolved from what began as a low-level protest against an obscure YouTube video that disparaged Muslims and the Prophet Mohammed.
In a May 2014 interview on Fox News, host Bret Baier repeatedly asked Vietor – who claimed that he himself had been present in the White House Situation Room on the night of the Benghazi attacks nearly two years earlier, whether President Obama had been in that room as well. Vietor replied that Obama had been somewhere else in the White House. When Baier pushed Vietor to disclose precisely where Obama was on that night, Vietor responded with annoyance: “I don’t know. I don’t have a tracking device on him in the residence.”
In the same interview, Vietor said that he was also “among the people who [had] prepped Susan Rice” — America’s then-ambassador to the United Nations — for her slate of five major television interviews about Benghazi on September 16, 2012 – interviews in which she claimed, falsely, that according to the “best information at present,” the deadly attack in Benghazi was not a premeditated assault but rather a “spontaneous reaction” to “a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world.” Baier, citing newly uncovered White House emails that revealed a coordinated attempt to portray the Benghazi terrorist attack as having been “rooted in an Internet video, and not a failure of [Obama administration] policy,” repeatedly pressed Vietor to disclose what role he himself may have played in crafting and altering Rice’s talking points. Vietor replied that he “maybe” had made some changes to those talking points but did not “really remember.” This prompted Baier to ask incredulously, “You don’t remember?” To which Vietor replied: “Dude, this was two years ago. We’re still talking about the most mundane thing…. We’re talking about the process of editing talking points. That’s what bureaucrats do all day long. Your producers edit scripts multiple times.”
Also in the May 2014 interview, Vietor told Baier that in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, the Obama administration had good reason to believe that the violence had been triggered by the anti-Islam video on YouTube: “We had witnessed a series of protests throughout the world where millions of people literally were taking to the streets, were overrunning our embassy in Cairo, because of this video. And there were individuals quoted who were on the scene that night, stating they were there because of the video.” “There is no way anyone knew definitively the motives of the attacker that evening,” Vietor added. “I don’t think we know definitively today. What I have seen is, in a number of outlets, reporters talk to people on the scene that night … who said they were there because they were upset about this video.”
Vietor’s Remarks Regarding the Muslim Brotherhood
In early April 2012, the Obama administration confirmed that members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had emerged as a powerful political force in Egypt following the overthrow of longtime president Hosni Mubarak, had recently met with U.S. officials including White House staffers. “Following Egypt’s revolution, we have broadened our engagement to include new and emerging political parties and actors,” Vietor told the media. “The meeting … with working-level [national security staff] officials,” he added, “is just one in a series of meetings between U.S. officials, members of Congress, and representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood.” “It is in the interest of the United States to engage with parties that are committed to democratic principles, especially nonviolence,” Vietor stated as well.
Vietor’s Remarks Regarding the Iran Nuclear Deal
On April 7, 2012, Vietor stated emphatically that no uranium enrichment whatsoever would be permitted under any U.S. nuclear agreement with Iran: “Our position is clear: Iran must live up to its international obligations, including full suspension of uranium enrichment as required by multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.” But three years later, on March 19, 2015, the Associated Press quoted Vietor saying that “agreement on Iran’s uranium enrichment program could signal a breakthrough for a larger deal aimed at containing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities,” and that a tentative deal that was now being discussed would impose “limits on the number of centrifuges Iran can operate to enrich uranium.” In other words, Iran could continue uranium enrichment, though within certain limits.
- “Tommy Vietor” (LinkedIn.com); “Changing of the Young Guard at the Obama White House” (Los Angeles Times, 2-24-2013); “‘Obama Bros’ Learn to Love Hillary” (Politico.com, 10-6-2016); “Crooked Media Fights Trump With ‘Pod Save America’” (Newsweek, 3-26-2017).
- “Hillary’s Huge Libya Disaster” (National Interest, 6-15-2016); “Anxiety Roils Libyan Capital Amid Top-Level Defections” (NY Times, 3-31-2011); “Possible Libya Stalemate Puts Stress on U.S. Policy” (NY Times, 4-11-2011); “As NATO Claims Progress in Libya, a U.S. Deadline Is Put to the Test” (NY Times, 5-20-2011); “Four Years After Gaddafi, Libya Is a Failed State” (Foreign Policy in Focus, 4-6-2015); “Hundreds of Islamic State Terrorists Move Into Libya” (The Trumpet, 1-23-2016).
- “Fmr. NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor: Obama Was Not In The Situation Room During Benghazi Attack” (Real Clear Politics, 5-1-2014); “Special Report: Tommy Vietor & Benghazi” (You Tube, 5-2-2014).
- Muslim Brotherhood Delegation Meets with White House Officials” (Politico.com, 4-4-2012).
- “Repeating Myself on an Iran Nuclear Deal” (by Cal Thomas, Chicago Tribune, 7-2-2015).