Hillary Clinton faced the firing squad on Thursday when she stepped into the opulent assembly room that typically houses the House Ways and Means Committee.
On this particular day the Special Select Committee on Benghazi was occupying the chamber, and they had their knives nicely sharpened and ready to greet the former secretary of state.
This group of seven Republicans and five Democrats — Chaired by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) — had gathered to once again dissect the events that took place on September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya.
Here are the most notable events and observations from the hearing.
The questions that Clinton received from the committee members throughout her hearing varied so widely in intensity and apparent purpose that you could almost see the relief break over her as a Republican finished and a Democrat began.
The Republican committee members were clearly out for blood and the Democratic committee members were equally determined to lob softball questions that Clinton could hit out of the park.
During Congressman Adam Smith’s (WA – D) line of inquiry, for example, he asked Clinton questions about the difficulties of her former job and what congress could have done to better assist her in her efforts to keep American’s safe abroad.
By contrast Congressman Mike Pompeo (KS – R) brought out two separate diagrams that showed the number of security requests that the security forces in Benghazi had made contrasted against the number of requests that were fulfilled.
The mian thrust of the Republican's questioning was to once again attack the former secretary about her private emails, and to try and cast aspersions over Clinton’s reactions to the attacks as they happened.
The Democrat's major goal, however, seemed to be to play the entire hearing off as an unnecessary power move by the Republicans that was engineered to weaken Clinton’s chances as a presidential candidate.
Clinton Was (Almost) Bulletproof
Whoever prepped Clinton for this hearing deserves a raise and a promotion. The Democratic hopeful for president parried the blows of her Republican attackers like a master fencer.
Her key tactic was to deflect and not to attack.
When questioned as to why she did not improve Benghazi’s security before the attack (despite knowing the danger level in the region was on the rise) she stated that her team of experienced advisors did not feel there was an “actionable” threat.
When Pompeo attacked Clinton for not firing anyone after the debacle she responded by stating that she followed the proper procedure and differed the decision to a disciplinary committee that did not find reason for termination.
At every turn she was able to provide an answer to her attackers that allowed her to escape unscathed from the onslaught.
However, there was one major exception.
The Silver Bullet
Despite Clinton’s serpentine ability to dodge the bulk of the questions, one attack was able to find its mark.
Congressman Jim Jordan (OH – R) questioned Clinton about her, and her staff’s, initial assessment of the attack's origin.
According to Jordan, Clinton originally made a statement that the Benghazi attack was a response to an inflammatory video of a protest that had taken place earlier in Egypt.
He then proceeded to read emails from Clinton to both her family and the Prime Minster of Egypt that made it clear that she did not believe her own statement; and in actuality viewed the attack as an unrelated instance of terrorism.
Jordan’s conclusion was that Clinton deliberately manipulated the truth of the event in order to protect both her personal image and her poll numbers.
“An inflammatory video doesn’t hurt you [in the election], an act of terrorism on your watch does," said Jordan.
Clinton attempted to combat the accusation by saying that she was attempting to put the rest of the region on alert by pointing to the video as a potential violence trigger. However, this defense fell flat compared to her other arguments throughout the hearing.
Clinton is in a position of strength going into the second round of questioning.
Her attackers have failed to find their mark and her Democratic allies on the committee are successfully unseating their Republican rivals.
More updates will be posted here as the story progresses.
Banner Image Credit: Chad J. McNeely
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