President Obama surprised aides when he revealed today the existence of a sealed indictment in the Benghazi, Libya, attack, leaving some wondering if he crossed a legal line.

At a press conference at the White House, President Obama was asked whether justice would come to those responsible for the terrorist attack nearly a year ago in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.

“[W]e have informed, I think, the public that there’s a sealed indictment,” the president responded. “It’s sealed for a reason. But we are intent on capturing those who carried out this attack, and we’re going to stay on it until we get them.”

That marked the only official confirmation so far of a sealed indictment in the Benghazi case. For days, officials across the law enforcement and intelligence communities have refused to publicly confirm reports of a sealed indictment.

After all, according to federal law, “no person may disclose [a sealed] indictment’s existence,” and a “knowing violation … may be punished as a contempt of court.” Contempt of court carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.


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