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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Clinton Under Fire In Benghazi Hearings

Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton testified in front of a congressional committee today about her role in the tragic events in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four Americans. 

Hillary Clinton endured intense interrogation during today’s marathon congressional hearings on the attacks that occurred in Benghazi, Libya. The former Secretary of State and frontrunner presidential candidate took fire from Republicans on the committee for more than ten hours as she patiently answered question after question.

Clinton maintained that she was not to blame for security lapses that led to the terrorist attacks that killed four Americans, including a U.S. ambassador, in September, 2012. Her testimony took on an emotional tone at times. “I would imagine I have thought more about what happened than all of you put together," Clinton said. "I have lost more sleep than all of you put together. I have been wracking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done." 

As the hours stretched on, the political tensions simmering beneath the surface of the hearings came to a boiling point as Democrats and Republicans argued on Capitol Hill. Political analyst Dan Schnur from the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California sums up the major arguments from both sides of the aisle.

“If you ask the Republicans, either those on the committee or elsewhere, they will tell you, accurately, that as Secretary of State, that Secretary Clinton had oversight responsibility and oversight authority over the State department offices in Benghazi that were the subject of the the attack a few years ago,” Schnur said. “If you ask the Democrats, they say that Secretary Clinton is there because she is the Democratic frontrunner for President and the Republicans want to do something to harm her campaign.”

Despite the political partisanship that dominated the day, Clinton managed to remain calm and collected as she defended her actions regarding the events in Benghazi. Many believe that the hearings today are a test of Clinton’s endurance. 

“The challenge when you’re being questioned in hearings like this is no matter how long the hearing goes on all it takes is one five or six or eight second flash of anger or irritation to dominate the news coverage,” said Schnur. “The real challenge for Secretary Clinton is over the course of this entire day is not to let down her guard for one single second.” 

Clinton appeared to have met the challenge. While it is unlikely that today’s hearings are going to result in any type of criminal proceeding, they could impact Clinton’s political campaign and her presidential aspirations going forward.

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