Grilled Over a Slow Fire

Six hours after it began, a House committee’s questioning of Hillary Rodham Clinton has provided few new details about the 2012 attacks on American installations in Benghazi, Libya – and, so far, no clear victory for Republicans seeking to trap Clinton in an admission of bad judgment.

Republicans on the committee have repeatedly pressed Clinton about the special access she gave longtime friend Sidney Blumenthal, who sent reports about Libya to the private e-mail address that Clinton used for government business while she was secretary of state. 

They have contrasted that with the treatment of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, whose requests for greater security measures went through official channels and never bubbled up to Clinton’s desk.

“Help us understand how Sidney Blumenthal had that kind of access to you, Madam Secretary, but the ambassador did not,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House special committee set up to investigate those attacks.

But the Republicans – including Gowdy – seemed to hurt their own cause at times. 

Several spent their 10-minute periods on oddball lines of questioning: One pressed Clinton repeatedly about an e-mail exchange between two State Department staffers that Clinton said she did not know. 

Others loudly remarked that Clinton was reading notes passed from aides, a common practice at Washington hearings. 

Another spent several minutes trying to prod Clinton into saying she’d done something even more common than hearings: A politician taking credit for something. 

And, repeatedly, the Republicans were baited by Democrats into a time-wasting fight over whether this committee was a partisan tool, and if any of them should be there at all. 

Just before lunch break, Gowdy and several Democrats got into a loud argument about whether to release Blumenthal’s interview transcripts, while cameras showed Clinton shuffling papers.

“I don’t know what this line of questioning does to help us get to the bottom of deaths of four Americans,” Clinton said to Gowdy, before the intra-legislator bickering began.

For Clinton, it was the continuation of a remarkable turnabout. As of several weeks ago, a revelation from this very committee – the existence of that private e-mail account – had put her on the defensive, and threatened to undermine her presidential campaign.      Read more:

No comments: