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Clinton defends her Benghazi record in face of Republican criticism

Updated: 2015-10-23 11:15


The panel has spent 17 months looking into the attacks that at the US mission compound. Clinton's long-awaited testimony was the most high-profile appearance yet before a committee that has already interviewed more than 50 witnesses.

At one point, Clinton impassively stacked papers while Republican Chairman Trey Gowdy and senior Democrat Elijah Cummings argued loudly over Cummings' request that the closed-door testimony of Clinton friend Sidney Blumenthal before the committee in June be publicly released.

Clinton listened intently, head in hand, as Gowdy heatedly questioned her about the constant emails she received from Blumenthal. Republicans noted that Stevens, the ambassador, did not even have Clinton's email address.

"You didn't need my email address to get my attention," Clinton said.

Cummings said congressional Republicans set up the panel for a partisan witch hunt.

"They set them loose, Madame Secretary, because you're running for president," he told Clinton, calling for an end to the "taxpayer-funded fishing expedition." He said the committee had spent $14.7 million of taxpayer money over 17 months.

Republican Representative Peter Roskam told Clinton she was the chief architect of US policy in Libya and that "things in Libya today are a disaster," but Clinton said President Barack Obama made the final call on US Libya policy.

Republican Representative Jim Jordan said Clinton had misleadingly implied after the attack that it was a reaction to an anti-Muslim video. Clinton, who denies suggesting the video was the cause, said the accusation had been proven false by other investigations.

Clinton's appearance before the panel follows months of controversy about her use of a private home email server for her State Department work, a disclosure that emerged in part because of the Benghazi committee's demand last year to see her official records.

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