Hillary on Benghazi Hot Seat: Bitter Party Lines Drawn, Clinton Confronted Over Murdered Ambassador's Unanswered Requests for More Security - And Confidant Sidney Blumenthal
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attempted to walk a swinging tightrope Thursday as Republicans on the House committee probing the Benghazi attacks hammered away at her communications with close friend Sidney Blumenthal -- suggesting she paid more attention to his emails than a barrage of unanswered pleas from murdered envoy Chris Stevens to increase security in the face of growing terrorist threats.
At the Capitol Hill hearing, Clinton insisted Blumenthal, whose frequent messages to her turned up in recently released emails, was not a primary source of information or even technically "advising" her.
But when she questioned what the emails have to do with the tragedy, committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., contrasted the frequent and direct communication with Blumenthal against Stevens' struggle to get more security.
"I think it is eminently fair to ask why Sidney Blumethal had unfettered access to you, Madam Secretary ... and there's not a single solitary email to or from you, to or from Ambassador Stevens," he said.
Indeed, Clinton earlier admitted that Stevens did not even have her personal email, while also claiming she didn't have a computer in her office.
"I do not believe that he had my personal email," Clinton said, before adding that Stevens had a "direct line" to others.
Clinton acknowledged some of his security requests were approved, and others were not. But she also testified that those requests were handled by security professionals in the department and not her.
"I did not see them. I did not approve them. I did not deny them," she said.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., too, questioned why security requests apparently didn't go to her, yet a number of detailed messages on Libya from Blumenthal did.
Clinton, while saying she "took responsibility" over Benghazi, faced frustrated GOP committee members throughout the lengthy hearing Thursday as she accepted little blame for the denial of security requests before the strike, and for the faulty narrative about an anti-Islam video that formed after.
"There is no doubt in my mind that we did the best we could with the information we had at the time," Clinton declared, during a tense exchange with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.
Jordan grilled Clinton on why the administration initially seemed to blame protests over an anti-Islam film.
"Where'd the false narrative start? It started with you, Madam Secretary," he charged, pointing to a State Department statement that night saying some were using the video to justify violence. Jordan said she later told the Egyptian prime minister they knew the attack was "planned" and had "nothing to do with the film." He alleged she didn't tell the American people the "truth."
But Clinton said they were dealing with "fluid" and "fast-moving" and "conflicting" information, and stressed that the night of the attack, she only said some "sought to justify" the attack with the video.