Evening at the Benghazi Hearing

Those of us who have simply been watching this hearing are tired of it all. It’s hard to imagine how Hillary Clinton feels after 11 hours. There have been a lot of words spilled since the last update three hours ago. Perhaps my weariness is kicking in because I’ve decided that – rather than provide a play-by-play – I’ll just summarize some moments that stood out to me.

One of the more bizarre ones came when Rep. Roskam suggested what he wanted Clinton to say.

“Chris Stevens kept faith in the State Department that I headed even when we broke faith with him. He accepted my invitation to work in Benghazi even though he was denied the security he implored we give him. We breached our fundamental duty to mitigate his danger and secure his safety.”

The former SoS respectively declined to agree with that.

Rep. Roby stirred up quite a fuss with a line of questioning about why Clinton went home the night of the attack in Benghazi instead of staying at the State Department. At one point she asked whether Secretary Clinton was alone all night. Hillary enjoyed a moment of levity by getting a bit of a laugh at the implication, but Rep. Roby didn’t seem to get the joke.

Rep. Roby then proceeded to ask Clinton the specifics of who she talked to and when those conversations happened in the days after the attack. This led her to insinuate that Clinton somehow didn’t care about the survivors of the attack in Benghazi because she followed the request of the FBI that she not talk to them until they had been de-briefed.

All of that got a reaction from Rep. Smith – who pointed out that not only is it obvious that Sec. Clinton cares about these employees – whether she does or not has absolutely no bearing on what happened in Benghazi.

But the rather thunderous response on that one came from Rep. Cummings. He made it clear that he took great offense at the implication and tied it back to the pointlessness of this entire enterprise – saying, “American is better than this.”

Clinton was obviously moved by what Rep. Cummings said and took the opportunity to say that it is time for statesmanship to overcome partisanship…for us to move forward and start working together and listening to each other. That was a most gracious statement after what some folks on this committee put her through.

Gowdy ended the hearing with a combo of grilling Clinton about her emails (yawn!) and attempting to finish the way he started…by trying to justify why all of this was necessary. In doing so, he impugned the work of the Accountability Review Board – specifically Admiral Mullen – and got the biggest rise out of Clinton that we saw all day.

The big takeaway from all this is that Hillary Clinton took fire for 11 hours (minus breaks) and stood up incredibly well. I’m sure Republicans will try to find a way to make hay over some minutia they’ll drum up. But she pretty much gave them nothing to work with. If they assumed that they’d crack her after 11 hours, it didn’t happen.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.