Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton began on Thursday her much awaited deposition at the Republican-led Benghazi attack hearing that could potentially boost or damage her run for the White House.
“I am here, despite all the previous investigation,” Clinton said in her opening remarks “to honour those we lost and to do what I can to aid those who serve us still.”
She added: “We should debate on the basis of fact, not fear. We should resist denigrating the patriotism or loyalty of those who disagree with us.”
The committee is investigating circumstances leading to the death of then US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Clinton was secretary of state then and testified at two congressional hearings while still in office. The incident has also been through at least half a dozen separate probes.
This is the first probe Clinton is facing as a candidate for the Democratic nomination to run for the White House, coming after months of a persisting controversy over her emails.
The committee has come under a cloud lately following admission by several Republicans that it was set up by their party, which controls the House, to damage Clinton’s run.
“Let me assure you it’s not (about you),” committee chairman Trey Gowdy said addressing those concerns at the hearing, “it’s about four people killed defending our country on foreign soil.”
“Why were there so many requests for security equipment and personnel and why were those requests denied in Washington?” Gowdy went on to ask, insinuating Clinton failed the diplomats.
The hearing was expected to last all of Thursday, from eight to 10 hours, with most news networks going live with it, expecting it to serve up moments that could shape the 2016 race.
Experts and observes didn’t expect the hearing to throw up any new information that might have escaped the multiple proceeding investigations. It’s just politics, they contend.
“If there was a smoking gun on Benghazi itself in the emails, I’m fairly confident the GOP would have shared it by now,” Neera Tanden, a Clinton ally and head of a DC think tank, tweeted.