Led by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Benghazi, a hearing is now underway at Public Hearing 4 – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Hopefully, the truth and indictments — of the Democrat Party’s presidential frontrunner and others — will follow soon.
Stay tuned for updates.
UPDATE #1: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the panel, is calling “bullshit” on Republicans for demanding the truth. He’s the first person today to characterize the hearing as a GOP effort to derail Hillary’s presidential campaign. Shameful!
UPDATE #2: Not unexpectedly, Representative Cummings pulled the Rep. Kevin McCarthy “card,” claiming the Benghazi hearings are aimed at derailing Hillary. Says GOP accusations are baseless. Cites Democrat report saying GOP claims unsubstantiated.
UDPATE #3: Representative Cummings says hearings are waste of money, show no nefarious activities, don’t change basic conclusions of eight previous investigations.
UDPATE #4: Hillary now reading from prepared statement, beginning with fluff. Says “I knew and admired Chris Stevens. He was one of our nation’s most admired diplomats.” Cites Stevens’ mothers memories of her son. Now giving generic appreciation for others — whom she didn’t know — who were killed during firefight. Now citing how “losing any one of” 70,000 employees “during my tenure was deeply painful.” So disingenuous. Now telling story about receiving caskets at Andrews AFB.
UDPATE #5: Hillary’s saying, despite so many previous investigations, she wants to share how we can move forward, beyond “this tragedy.” Said Chris Stevens understood the dangers he faced. Says he volunteered. Says he understood we will never prevent every act of terrorism. In other words, she’s trying to get us to believe his death is the price of doing business.
UDPATE #6: Hillary says Stevens “chose to go to Benghazi because he understood America needed to be represented in Libya at that pivotal time” and he understood weapons in the Middle East “could not fall into the wrong hands.” Hasn’t mentioned the video yet. Why?
UDPATE #7: Hillary says we have a responsibility to provide our diplomats everything they need to do their jobs effectively. Now, she’s name-dropping about “accountability review board” set up after the deadly attacks at Benghazi. Cites 29 improvements needed. Says she was putting them in place. “Day late dollar short” comes to mind.
UDPATE #8: Hillary’s final observation: her “pride” while traveling the world. Sounding more like a presidential candidate than someone who’s about to have to answer tough questions. She must be hoping most Americans will tune out after she finishes her opening statement. It will be interesting to see how the nation’s news media treat this hearing. The American people “expect us to lead,” she said. Shaking my head.
UDPATE #9: Chairman Gowdy tells Hillary she’s long-winded but he’s not going to cut her off. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) takes over. I missed first question he asked. In her answer, she seems to be explaining what her State Department was doing prior to Benghazi eruption. Representative Roskam cites opposition Hillary faced within State Department. Top career diplomat said, paraphrasing, “giving weapons to those seeking to seize government control” hasn’t worked out well. Hillary laughs. Representative Roskam said Hillary persuaded Obama to go that way anyway. She puts blame on president. Wow!
UDPATE #10: Hillary says it was a “difficult decision.” Uses phrase, “at the end of the day,” many times. How many times can Hillary blame Obama for this mess? Talk about trying to distance herself from disaster — wow! Hillary says she conducted “due diligence.” Near argument ensues. Hillary cuts off Representative Roskam. Blames president again.
UDPATE #11: Representative Roskam paints picture of Hillary steering the ship of State, casts doubt on whether Obama was behind the efforts in Libya. Hillary used word “recall” for the first time!
UDPATE #12: Chairman Gowdy yields time to Representative Cummings. Predictably, he throws propaganda softballs, talks about members of Accountability Review Board, including Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullens. Hillary says she takes responsibility for what happened in Benghazi, but blames result on folks in charge of security at Benghazi. Says such issues don’t come before secretary of state. Says she took ARB findings seriously and began implementing them.
UDPATE #13: Representative Cummings blames folks at State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security for failures at Benghazi. Asks Hillary to respond to accusations by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) that Hillary approved security measures. Representative Cummings hypes his honesty and integrity before saying emails his colleagues obtained confirm that Hillary did not reject security requests as Republicans claim. Hillary says she’ll try to explain how confusion may have surfaced. Blames tradition of the “stamp” at State Department for decisions being tied to her.
UDPATE #14: Chairman Gowdy recognizes Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) who shows stacks of hundreds of Hillary’s emails — including daily and hourly updates — prior to September 2012 and asks why there were so few emails about Libya in 2012. Asks what Ambassador Stevens was supposed to do in Benghazi and how long he was to stay. Hillary’s answer: empty.
UDPATE #15: Representative Brooks cites emails from Hillary’s right-hand gal, Huma Abedin, and other senior staffers in 2011 and prior to Benghazi in 2012. Asks why attack on U.S. compound in Libya was not mentioned in emails. Hillary says she did not do the vast majority of her work with emails.
It’s 10:18 a.m. Central. More later.
UDPATE #16: Twelve minutes later, I’m back. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) asks Hillary about her efforts to work with Department of Defense to assess security challenges at diplomatic outposts. Hillary thanks her for her service, kisses butt, then begins spinning answer. Says it’s challenging to get military assets into countries that don’t want them there. Says Libya didn’t want any foreign military there. Says “our military did everything they could” in response to attack at Benghazi.
UDPATE #17: Representative Duckworth continues, same subject. Asks if process of State Department working with DoD has produced substantive results. Hillary says she began implementing the recommendations before she stepped down. Says process should be institutionalized.
UDPATE #18: Representative Duckworth asks Hillary about efforts to keep State Department employees informed. Hillary recalls veteran diplomats complaining about security being too tight to do their jobs. An effort to account for her slipshod handling of classified information via emails? I think so.
UDPATE #19: Representative Martha Roby (R-Ala.) asks Hillary about confusion and uncertainty in Libya prior to Benghazi attack and about Hillary’s drop in interest in Benghazi in 2012. Points to email in which one staffer writes about Hillary asking if we still have a presence in Benghazi. Hillary denies: “I can’t comment on what has been reported. Of course, I knew we had a presence in Benghazi….” From there, she leaps ahead to the post-Qaddafi elections in Libya and almost takes credit for the dictator’s ouster. “We did an enormous amount of work” and “the Libyans did not feel they could welcome a peace-keeping mission.” Representative Roby doesn’t buy into it, asks why her staffers would make things up about Hillary, asks Hillary to turn to Tab 31 of exhibits.
UDPATE #20: Hillary asks Representative Roby for names of staffers behind emails. Upon hearing names, Hillary says “they were not on my staff.”
UDPATE #21: Representative Roby says she’s frustrated by Hillary brushing off content of staffers’ emails, then moves on to security issues at Benghazi. Says staff of 10 security agents in 2011 reduced to only three prior to the attack at Benghazi. Asks Hillary why the cutback. Hillary explains Ambassador Stevens had two personal security members, so that made five. Said the ambassador “felt very comfortable” with the total of five security folks.
UDPATE #22: Following brief spat between Representative Roby and Hillary, Chairman Gowdy recognizes Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.). He throws softballs. “You knew we had a presence in Benghazi,” he said. “Of course, I did,” she replied. He berates GOP’s obsession with emails, including some by “junior staffers.” Criticizes spending millions of dollars to investigate Benghazi. Says “not a single solitary thing” has been produced by investigation. He sounds as if he’s bucking for a post in Hillary’s administration.
UDPATE #23: Representative Smith asks Hillary to explain what is the proper balance between providing security and making it possible for diplomats to do their jobs? Hillary replies with a lot of time-wasting.
UDPATE #24: After Representative Smith asks lame budget question, Chairman Gowdy recognizes Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) who criticizes Smith for offering inaccurate information. After that, he begins lambasting Hillary about her apparent lack of awareness of the situation in Libya.
UDPATE #25: Representative Westmoreland asks Hillary if she was aware of the volume of intelligence being generated about Libya. After she assures him she was aware, he asks her what she did in response to the intelligence. She says “there was never any recommendation by anyone… to leave Benghazi even after the two incidents you mentioned.”
UDPATE #26: Representative Westmoreland asks Hillary if she was aware of “other 18” attacks in Benghazi cited in book by former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell. She said she was not.
UDPATE #27: Representative Westmoreland asks Hillary how many instances it would have required for Hillary to decide to “protect our people” over there. Hillary blames “security professionals who made the decisions about what kind of security would be provided.” Dodges bullet (no pun intended). “They were the ones making the assessment. No one ever came to me and said we should shut down our compound in Benghazi.” Representative Westmoreland asks Hillary to explain how she expected Ambassador Stevens to do his job with inadequate security. Hillary says State Department and CIA has “an agreement,” but acknowledges it was not a written agreement. Representative Westmoreland asks Hillary why she exchanged so many emails with friend Sidney Blumenthal but her “friend” Ambassador Stevens did not. And he asked if the man who asked for additional security 20 or more times had Hillary’s email address. Hillary said she didn’t believe he did.
UDPATE #28: Chairman Gowdy recognized Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) who asked her about why “diplomatic security” was not mentioned “in any material way” in 270 pages of her report. She couldn’t really explain why anyone has been held accountable to date before saying the ARB didn’t believe anyone should be fired. “You’re telling me you had no authority to….” She says she followed the law. Representative Pompeo asks how many security requests were made regarding Benghazi. Hillary pleads ignorance. Representative Pompeo asks why she’s so quick to read Blumenthal’s emails when she ignores hundreds of emails from people working for her. She stumbles and bumbles, says Blumenthal “is a friend of mine.” She says “he had no official position in the government.” Representative Pompeo cites nature of Blumenthal emails and tells Hillary “the record does not reflect that.” In short, he calls Hillary a liar!
UDPATE #29: Representative Pompeo asks why security requests didn’t result in added security. She blames security professionals. Pompeo doesn’t buy it.
UDPATE #30: Representative Pompeo asks Hillary if she was aware that her people in Benghazi met with known terrorists in Libya less than 48 hours before the attack in Benghazi. She says “I know nothing about this” twice before asking to whom, specifically, he was referring.
UDPATE #31: Chairman Gowdy recognizes Representative Linda Chavez (D-Calif.) who asks Hillary if Blumenthal was her “primary intelligence officer.” Predictably, she says he was not before reiterating that she did not use email as her primary communications tool for discussing issues. She goes on to explain how her people were experienced and met with Qaddafi many times.
UDPATE #32: Representative Chavez asks Hillary about statements made by Representative Pompeo on NBC’s “Meet the Press” (i.e., that Blumenthal was Hillary’s chief intelligence advisor). Not surprisingly, Hillary agreed that Blumenthal was not her top intel advisor. Chavez goes on to ask Hllary what she did upon learning about the attack. In response, Hillary spins exotic tale.
UDPATE #33: Representative Chavez ends by quoting then-CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus as having said his people did everything they could. Hillary agreed.
UDPATE #34: Chairman Gowdy recognizes Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) who asks Hillary about alleged video that allegedly incited protest that preceded Benghazi attack. Says Hillary was the mastermind behind effort to blame attack on “the video.” Hillary’s response: She continues to blame the video, saying it had been shown on Egyptian television viewable in Libya. Says she used the word “some” to explain the number of people who blamed the video. Jordan doesn’t buy it.
UDPATE #35: Representative Jordan slices, dices and peels Hillary’s false statements. Shows her email to family members in which she describes attackers as having been members of an al-Qaeda-like group. Hillary rejects. Jordan shows another email 27 minutes after her “it’s a video” statement. Jordan says, 56 days before the U.S. presidential election, she talked politics instead of truth. Says “Americans can live with the fact that sometimes good people give their lives for this country, but what they can’t take is when their government is not square with them.”
UDPATE #36: Hillary responds by saying we did the best we could with the information we had. Says she explains more in her latest book. Blarney! She says she was trying to put out flames everywhere. Representative Jordan calls out Clinton for saying he “insinuated.” He says he read her words. Nothing more. She says, “I’m sorry it doesn’t fit your narrative.”
UDPATE #37: As last man to speak before lunch break, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) accuses GOP colleagues of having “nothing new to tell the American people” that alters the conclusions of the investigations to date. Ends by citing long list of so-called “facts,” pointing to outside efforts that called for Hillary to testify before Benghazi committee and asks Hillary what it’s like to be subject of such a probe. Hillary responds by saying, “It’s a very painful accusation” before going on with a Hollywood-quality performance about the pain she’s endured. Give me a break!
UDPATE #38: Chairman Gowdy recognizes himself and berates Representative Schiff for his B.S. Cites concerns family members of the fallen have regarding the investigations to date. Points to Blumenthal emails as problematic. Asks Hillary who at the White House rejected Blumenthal’s interest in employment. Hillary said she didn’t know. Asks Hillary more about Blumenthal. Mentions Blumenthal was employed by Clinton Family Foundation and has worked at Media Matters and other left-wing entities. Worth noting: Just after the one-hour mark in the hearing, the woman sitting behind and to Hillary’s right writes frantically after Hillary is asked to give her definition of “unsolicited” by Blumenthal. I expect that to be a newsworthy item in days to come.
UDPATE #39: Chairman Gowdy continues to berate Hillary. Hillary continues to plead ignorance about Blumenthal’s emails and claims she doesn’t know who wrote them if not Blumenthal.
UDPATE #40: Very interesting catfight between Chairman Gowdy and Hillary. Chairman asks Hillary if President Barack Obama knew Blumenthal was advising her. She says she doesn’t know. Gowdy continues to lambaste Hillary over Blumenthal. By the way, I’m fairly certain the woman mentioned in Update #38 is Cheryl D. Mills.
UDPATE #41: When Hillary says she doesn’t know how this hearing is helping get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi, Chairman Gowdy offers to help her understand. She continues to explain before Chairman Gowdy explains why the hearing is relevant. “I think it is imminently fair to ask why Sidney Blumenthal had unfettered access to you.” Representative Cummings interrupts and asks for time. Given time, he accuses Gowdy of making false statements regarding Blumenthal. Gowdy shuts him down, explaining how his statements were NOT false. Cummings is out of control, ranting!
UDPATE #42: It’s apparent that Democrats are scared. Chairman Gowdy is not backing down. Loved how Gowdy mentioned 27 outstanding discovery requests made to the Executive Branch. The committee adjourned — for lunch, I suspect.
FYI: Sorry, but I won’t be able to follow the hearing if it resumes after the noon hour. I will, however, provide updates if any surface later.
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