At 2pm Wednesday, Secretary Clinton will testify before the House Foreign Relations Committee; a live stream of her testimony can be seen at the bottom of this page.
This morning Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the September 11th attack in Benghazi, which left U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three others dead.
Clinton’s testimony had been delayed due to the former First Lady’s hospitalization in late December — a health scare that many Republicans hysterically claimed was a “diplomatic illness” conceived to allow Clinton to dodge questions about Benghazi. If Clinton was indeed concerned about testifying, however, it was not reflected in her calm, measured answers to the senators’ questions.
Secretary Clinton repeatedly took responsibility for the attack, saying she has “no higher priority and no greater responsibility” than protecting State Department employees abroad, and that “as I have said many times, I take responsibility, and nobody is more committed to getting this right.”
While remembering the experience of receiving the caskets of the victims with President Barack Obama, Clinton became emotional.
“I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the sisters and brothers, the sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children,” she said.
Later in the hearing, Clinton heatedly clashed with Tea Party-backed Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson, who accused U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice of “purposefully misleading” the American public by suggesting that an anti-Islam YouTube video helped spark the attack.
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton shouted over Johnson, who repeatedly interrupted her. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”
Kentucky Republican Rand Paul also attempted to get under Clinton’s skin by declaring that, were he the president, he would have fired Clinton over the Benghazi tragedy.
“I’m glad that you’re accepting responsibility,” said Paul. “I think ultimately with your leaving that you accept the culpability for the worst tragedy since 9/11. And I really mean that.”
“Had I been president and found you did not read the cables from Benghazi and from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post. I think it’s inexcusable,” Paul said.
Clinton replied by reminding Paul that the Accountability Review Board that examined the attack “made very clear that the level of responsibility for the failures that they outlined was set at the Assistant Secretary level and below,” not with the Secretary of State.
Furthermore, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) later chastised Paul by noting “If some people on this committee want to call this tragedy the worst since 9/11, it misunderstands the nature of 4,000 plus Americans lost in the war in Iraq under false pretenses.”
Paul also used his testimony to ask if the United States was transferring weapons to Turkey through Libya — a question that visibly stumped Secretary Clinton, who was apparently unfamiliar with this right-wing conspiracy theory.
Finally, Paul complained that the State Department’s security is inadequate — a rather hypocritical charge, considering that Paul himself has proposed cutting the department’s budget by 71 percent.
Indeed, earlier in the hearings, Clinton noted that “consistent shortfalls have required the department to prioritize available funding out of security accounts.” She also criticized Republicans in the House of Representatives for putting holds on foreign aid, lamenting that “We have to get our act together.”
At 2pm Wednesday, Clinton will appear before the House Foreign Relations Committee to answer their questions on Benghazi; a live stream of her testimony can be seen below: