For those who did not have the stamina to watch an entire 11 hours of Hillary Clinton being drilled about emails, personal servers and Benghazi – we break it down for you.
Why the hearing occurred:
The cause for so much talk around Clinton’s “damn emails” is due to the 2012 attack at the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya by Islamic militants killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens, State Department information management officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
During this time, Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State appointed by the Obama administration and has been criticised for denying requests for additional security by the consulate prior to the attacks. Hillary has since taken responsibility for the attacks.
#EmailGate: When a hacker exposed Hillary’s private email address it was reported that she had also been in correspondence with a friend and sometimes advisor named Sidney Blumenthal discussing the Benghazi incident and that by using her personal email to conduct Government business as Secretary of state she was violating federal laws. Reports that top secret emails were uncovered on her private server began to circulate, and questions around what was “classified” content going through the server began to be investigated with over 30,490 emails being handed over to the state department and another 31, 830 being deleted. Note, that the Federal Records Act requires federal employees to keep copies of their communications but amendments were made in 2014, after Hillary left the State department, providing a 20 day window for Federal employees to transfer emails to Government servers.
Some highlights from the hearing:
The hearing included the 50,000 pages of emails and arguments occurred from both sides over whether the focus should be on the use of a personal server, or the content in the emails. However, this committee’s reference was Benghazi not the emails. That matter will boil up again once the FBI has completed its investigations.
Referring to the initial incident in Benghazi, Hillary and the State Department were accused for not being responsive to the requests by two ambassadors, Republican of Illinois representative Peter Roskam tore up a piece of paper in front of Hillary while saying “They were torn up.” Mr Roskam also accused Hillary of using the situation in Libya to push her own agenda and that emails found suggested she was looking for credit due commented “I think it’s (a Clinton agenda) where an opportunity is seized to turn progress in Libya into a political win for Hillary Rodham Clinton.” These were all solid moves, because now he is being googled a lot more.
Republican of Georgia, Lynn Westmoreland, asked Hillary what should would have done differently, with Hillary responding that she was unsure that in regards to stopping the attackers there was very little she could have done differently.
The focus turned to how the emails were handed over, with Hillary making the point that she allowed the appropriate officials to go through her emails and did not “look over their shoulders” during that process.
Democrat of Washington Adam Smith made the point during the hearing to say “When you look at the questioning, the purpose of this committee is to prosecute you. There will be time enough for that in the next year. And people will do it.” Jim Jordan added to the tense atmosphere with leading comments towards Clinton such as “Where did the false narrative start? It started with you Madam Secretary” when commenting on email exchanges which allegedly called the Benghazi event “a planned attack, not a protest” insinuating that the agenda was to change the public commentary around the incident. Hillary responded with “There is no doubt in my mind we did the best we could with the information we had at the time.”
A terribly exciting moment was when representatives Elijah E Cummings and Trey Gowdy got into an argument about the interest in the email exchanges between Hillary Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal. Trey also made a point to say that while some are suggesting the hearing was a ‘prosecution’ that this was an ‘investigation’. When further pushed about her friendship with Blumenthal, Clinton remarked to Trey “If you don’t have any friends who privately say unkind things, I congratulate you”.
There were also a number remarks questioning whether or not she ‘cares’ and how there is so much analysis over every single thing she says, and every facial expression she makes. Hillary, in response to the insinuation that she did not do enough, or potentially care enough she said “I would imagine I’ve thought more about what happened than all of you put together. I’ve lost more sleep than all of you put together,”
Elijah E Cummings also made an impassioned plea to the committee, tired of the constant email questions and made the point that every Republican candidates are trying to badger Clinton for a “gotcha” moment, “We’re better than that” he then said.
Hillary claims she was unaware of 600+ emails requesting added security for the Benghazi compound and she took no part in the subsequent response to do nothing. Her opponents claim it is unlikely she could have been totally unaware of the plight of one of her ambassadors. However even if that’s true it was her responsibility to have better response procedures in place and furthermore she took no action against the members of her department who failed to do anything. That argument leaves her dangerously exposed from a political perspective.
Important Note: Hillary’s composure and hair remained on point for the duration of the 11 hour drilling.