Clinton Endures An 11-Hour Grilling Before Benghazi Committee : It's All Politics As the House Select Committee on Benghazi finally wrapped up its questions Thursday evening, it was unclear if any new light was shed on the 2012 attack that killed four Americans.
NPR logo

Clinton Endures An 11-Hour Grilling Before Benghazi Committee

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/451012235/451066988" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Clinton Endures An 11-Hour Grilling Before Benghazi Committee

Clinton Endures An 11-Hour Grilling Before Benghazi Committee

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/451012235/451066988" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Hillary Clinton is back on the campaign trail after a marathon round of questions from the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Yesterday's hearing lasted 11 hours. And in the end, it's hard to say how much new light was shed on the 2012 terrorist attack that left four Americans dead. NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: For many, there was just one question heading into the hearing - was it a genuine effort to discover new information about the Benghazi attack, or was it a partisan effort designed to rough up the leading Democratic candidate for president? In his opening remarks, the committee's chairman, Republican Trey Gowdy, insisted it was the former.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TREY GOWDY: There are people frankly in both parties who have suggested that this investigation is about you. Let me assure you it is not, and let me assure you why it is not. This investigation is about four people who were killed representing our country on foreign soil.

KEITH: Hillary Clinton kept bringing the conversation back to the lives lost and was measured and largely somber throughout the hearing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: I've lost more sleep than all of you put together. I have been racking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done.

KEITH: But the apolitical tone didn't last long. Republicans on the committee pushed Clinton hard. And Democrats mostly complained that the committee's work was expensive and unproductive. Again and again, Republican committee members asked questions about Clinton's emails, frequently emails she got from a man named Sidney Blumenthal. He's a Clinton family friend and political operative with no official government role. But still, he emailed Hillary Clinton a lot about Libya. Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas asked if the ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, who was killed in the attack, had similar access. Did he have her email address, her cell phone number?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE POMPEO: Did he have your home address?

CLINTON: No, I don't think any ambassador has ever asked me for that.

POMPEO: Did he ever stop by your house?

CLINTON: No, he did not, Congressman.

POMPEO: Mr. Blumenthal had each of those and did each of those things. This man upon whom provided you so much information on Libya had access to you in ways that were very different than the access that a very senior diplomat had.

KEITH: Clinton's response - Stevens was in regular contact with her closest aides. Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland was among those who questioned Clinton about why she didn't provide more security for the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi. She said security decisions didn't come to her. They were handled by the security professionals at the State Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LYNN WESTMORELAND: What did you do, and what decisions did you make? And you said everybody else is responsible for everything else, what were you responsible for?

KEITH: She listed a number of things, like picking Stevens to be the ambassador and setting policy after the fall of Gadhafi.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: I was responsible for quite a bit, Congressman. I was not responsible for specific security requests and decisions. That is not something I was responsible for.

KEITH: There were also a lot of questions about the accuracy of statements and talking points from Clinton and other administration officials about an anti-Islamic video that sparked protests in the Arab world. After the hearing was over, the committee's chairman, Trey Gowdy, was asked the most important new things he's learned.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GOWDY: Well, when you say new today - I mean, we knew some of that already. We knew about the emails. In terms of her testimony? I don't know that she testified that much differently today than she has previous times she's testified.

KEITH: The committee's investigation remains open-ended. Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.