The past few weeks have been very eventful for the Democratic Party. Vice President Joe Biden put to rest rumors of a presidential run, party hopefuls Lincoln Chafee and Paul Webb dropped out of the race, and the Party had their first debate.
The debate brought to the forefront Party dark horses Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, and put frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the limelight once again. With Clinton’s successful showing in the October 13th debate, people seemed to be once again warming up to the idea of a Clinton ticket. However, this past week’s Congressional hearing over the Republican assembled committee on the Benghazi attacks of 2012 attempted to once again cloud Clinton’s reputation with more scandal.
The original House committee was pro-posed last May by the then Speaker of the House, John Boehner, and is now headed by Representative Trey Gowdy from South Carolina. The day-long hearing attempted to debunk a generally calm and collected Clinton, and accuse her of ignoring requests for added security from U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, during the 2012 attacks which killed Stevens and 3 other Americans.
Clinton made it a point to remain calm and diplomatic amidst attacks from her Republican aggressors. She avoided suspect gaffes, like the one she made 2 years ago in which she stated, “At this point, what difference does it make?” when asked about her knowledge of the attackers’ motives. She made the point that accusations of her ignoring requests for more security for Stevens are “very painful” and she noted that she has “lost more sleep then all of you put together” when reflecting on the attacks.
Republican Susan Brooks of Indiana also posed the question of whether or not Clinton had any contact with the ambassador prior to the attacks, to which Clinton answered, “I don’t recall.” Clinton continued to say that the State Department has ambassadors in very hostile places around the world and they are always on high alert. Brooks responded by saying, “Had you talked to him in July, he would’ve told you that he needed to keep the security in Libya he was receiving, and he was told ‘no’ by your department.”
However, Clinton also received assistance from allies on the panel. Politicians like Adam Schiff (D-California) and Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) made points during the discussion which attacked Republicans for creating this committee in the first place.
“As a country, we are better than that. We are better than using tax payer dollars to try and destroy a campaign,” Cummings said.
Republicans, however, will have a bit of fuel going forward. Revelations that Clinton had a conversation with Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil, in which she revealed that the attacks were premeditated and most likely carried out by a known terrorist group, will come back to haunt her in further hearings.
This has been the seventh full investigation of the circumstances of the attack, and the fifth one conducted by the House. These investigations have been largely regarded as having been conducted better than before, but none of them have found substantial wrongdoing in the protocol surrounding the tragedy. Committee chairman Trey Gowdy said afterwards that future interviews will be done in private, because the partisan-ship of a public hearing does not produce enough results.
The committee, which seemed more political than investigative, proved to not hurt Clinton. Most news outlets considered the hearing to be absurd and considered Clinton the victor. Clinton still remains the leader in the Democratic polls. However, this lead also continues to fuel conversation within the Republican Party over the legitimacy of Clinton’s campaign. GOP candidate and presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina was quoted as saying that Clinton lied about her knowledge of the attacks and this lie was made known during the hearings. Additionally, Fiorina said that the only strength in Clinton’s campaign comes with the fact that she is attempting to be the first female president.
“I think it’s worth remembering though that Hillary Clinton is running on a platform of being the first woman president. That is her platform,” Fiorina said. “If I am our nominee, I will force her to have to run on her track record, or lack thereof.”
The 11 hour hearing was cluttered with lines of questioning that ranged from Clinton’s private email server to her friends’ knowledge. Needless to say, with angry Republican representatives keen on strengthening their chances to win back the presidency and the resulting pushback from loyal Democrats, this conversation is far from over.
-Sean Ryan ’18, Junior Politics/Opinions Editor