WASHINGTON—The White House says President Barack Obama did not speak to any Libyan government officials until the night after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler sent a letter Thursday to three Republican senators. Ruemmler says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf on Obama's behalf on Sept. 11 to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the raid.

She says Obama spoke to Magariaf on the evening of Sept. 12.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is among lawmakers holding up the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary while they demand answers about what Obama was doing that night.