Glutton for punishment, I watched a lot of the Clinton testimony yesterday … or, at least had it on in background when I was working.
For what it’s worth, here are my takeaways ….
In general, Clinton was well-prepared, had plausible cover stories and maintained a disciplined demeanor.
For anybody who watched a couple of hours of the testimony (and wasn’t very informed about the issues), she put on a winning performance.
Attorneys would label her a “good witness”.
But, there were a couple of red flags in the testimony …
Responsible for everything, responsible for nothing
Clinton often repeated her “I accept responsibility” mantra, but when pressed, she always pushed the blame onto somebody down the organization chart. Example: “I’m not a security expert, I trusted my security team to make those decisions.”
Over 600 requests for added security
I thought it was a “wow” moment when the committee substantiated over 600 requests from Ambassador Stevens for heightened security. Clinton alleges that none made it to her as Secretary of State. The committee alleges that, for all practical purposes, all were ignored or rejected.
“Ambassador Stevens was aware of the dangers”
Her most serious unforced error, in my opinion, was attempting to defend her “security experts” for ignoring the requests for added security by, in a thinly veiled way, blaming the victims. “Chris knew it was a dangerous assignment.” Said repeatedly, it came across (to me) as characterizing Ambassador Stevens a whiner who whines were understandably dismissed. I don’t understand why she played that card.
Can’t fire Federal employees
Since the security situation was blotched, and since responsibility fell beneath Clinton on the organization chart … did she fire or reprimand anybody? Answer: no … “that’s not the way the government works”. She initiated “processes” that subsequently determined that the was no gross malfeasance. No harm, no foul … unless you think 4 dead Americans constitutes “harm”.
“Hey Chelsea, it was al Qaeda”
This is the part of the testimony that will get the most attention. On the night of the attack, she emailed Chelsea that it was a terrorist attack (which it has proven to be). The next morning, she emailed the Egyptian PM that “We know it was terrorists. Nothing to do with the video.” Yet, she repeatedly went public – even to the victims’ families – peddling the fiction about the “spontaneous attack motivated by the video.” Obviously, she was doing it for political reasons – to provide cover for the Administration … and, is being held out to dry on it.
Why is one stack so much higher than the other?
Another “wow” moment for me was when the Congresswoman from Indiana pulled out 2 stacks of “discovered” emails. One pile had all of the emails for the couple of months before Benghazi; the other pile was for the couple of months after. The first pile looked like it was about a foot and a half high; the second was a couple of inches at most. The explanation: “I conducted most of my sensitive business offline – face-to-face and on secured telephone lines.” The Congresswoman missed the opportunity to ask: “So, you weren’t doing sensitive business in the period before Benghazi … represented by this huge pile of emails?”
“I didn’t even have a computer in my office”
This was Clinton’s proof point that she conducted most business off the grid. Question #1: How many of you have sent or received email via smart phones or iPads? Question #2: How many of you have seen the above picture? I don’t understand why she wasn’t challenged on that.
I don’t think many minds were changed, one way or another. There wasn’t a damning “What difference does it make?” sound bite. And, I don’t think the testimony will elicit much “oh, now I get” reaction.
The GOP looked like they were after her; the Dems looked like they were sipping the Kool-Aid from their cups on live TV.
Maybe the fallout will be on the Administration since it was the starkest evidence that the cover story about the video was pure political BS. But, so what? The President got re-elected and he’s on his glide path out.
Or, maybe some concern that a Federal employee can’t be fired … even if their actions lead to 4 dead Americans. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that to change.
Bottom line: good theater, sun will come up, nothing changed.