tv MSNBC Live With Thomas Roberts MSNBC October 22, 2015 10:00am-12:01pm PDT
undisputed that a significant number of your e-mails were to or from sidney blumenthal. he did not work for the state department. he didn't work for the u.s. government at all. he wanted to work for the state department but the white house said no to him. do you recall who specifically at the white house rejected sidney blumenthal? >> no, i do not. >> after he was turned down for a job at the state department, by the white house, he went to work where? >> i think he had a number of consulting contracts with different entities. >> if he had a number of them, do you recall any of them? >> i know that he did some work for my husband. >> well, he worked for the clinton foundation. >> that's correct. >> okay. he worked for media matters. >> i'm sure he did. >> he worked for correct the record. >> i'm sure he did. >> when you were asked about sidney blumenthal, you said he was an old friend who sent you
unsolicited e-mails which you passed on in some instances because you wanted to hear from people outside what you called the bubble. we will ignore for a second whether or not sidney blumenthal is outside the bubble but i do want to ask you about a couple of those other comments because what you left out was that he was an old friend who knew absolutely nothing about libya, was critical of president obama and others that you work with, loved to send you political and image advice, had business interests in libya which he not only alerted you to, but solicited your help for, and you often forwarded his e-mails but usually only after you redacted out any identifier so nobody knew where the information was coming from. what does the word unsolicited mean to you? >> it means that i did not ask him to send me the information that he sent me, and as i have
previously stated, some of it i found interesting, some of it i did not, some of it i forwarded, some of it i did not. i did not know anything about any business interests. i thought that just as i said previously, newspaper articles, journalists of which he is one, former journalist, had some interesting insights and so we took them on board and evaluated them and some were helpful and others were not. >> we will get to all the points you just made but i want to start with your public comment that these e-mails were unsolicited. you wrote to him, another keeper, thanks and please keep them coming. greetings from kabul and thanks for keeping this stuff coming. any other info about it, question mark. what are you hearing now, question mark. got it. will follow up tomorrow.
anything else to convey, question mark. now, that one is interesting because that was the very e-mail where mr. blumenthal was asking you to intervene on behalf of a business deal that he was pursuing in libya. what did you mean by what are you hearing now? >> i have no idea, congressman. they started out unsolicited and as i said, some were of interest, i passed them on, and some were not. so he continued to provide me information that was made available to him. >> i don't want to parse words and i don't want to be hyper technical because it's not a huge point but it is an important point. you didn't say they started off unsolicited. >> they did. >> you said they were unsolicited. >> well, they were unsolicited. but obviously, i did respond to some of them. >> well -- >> and i'm sure that encouraged him. >> anything else to convey, what are you hearing now, i'm going to paris tomorrow night, will
meet with tnc leader so this and additional info useful. still don't have electricity or blackberry coverage post-iran so i have had to resort to my new ipad. let me know if you receive this. we will talk about the new ipad in a little bit. here's another one. this report is in part a response to your questions. that's an e-mail from him to you. this report is in part a response to your questions. there will be further information in the next day. if you're the one asking him for information, how does that square with the definition of unsolicited? >> i said it began that way, mr. chairman, and i will add that both chris stevens and gene kretz found some of the information interesting, far more than i could, because they knew some of the characters who were being mentioned and they were the ones, the kind of persons with the expertise that i asked to evaluate to see whether there was any useful information. >> we are going to get to that in a second.
before you give mr. blumenthal too much credit, you agree he didn't write a single one of those cables or memos he sent you? >> i'm sorry, what? >> he didn't write a single one of those cables or memos? >> i don't know who wrote them. he's the one who sent them to me. >> would you be surprised to know not a single one of those was from him? >> i don't know where he got the information. >> did you ask? >> what? >> did you ask? you're sending me very specific detailed intelligence. what is your source? that seems to me like a pretty good question. >> i did learn later that he was talking to or sharing information from former american intelligence officials. >> by the name of? who wrote those cables? >> i don't recall. i don't know, mr. chairman. >> you had his information passed on to others but at least on one occasion, you ask miss abedin can you print without any identifiers. why would you want his name removed? >> because i thought that it would be more important to just look at the substance and make a determination as to whether or not there was anything to it. >> don't people have a right to
know the source of the information so this can determine credibility? >> he wasn't the source of the information. >> you didn't know that, and that's what you just said. >> no, no, mr. chairman, i said i knew that he didn't have the sources to provide that information. i knew he was getting it from somewhere else. he knew a lot of journalists, he knew others in washington. it could have been a variety of people. >> if you are going to determine credibility, don't you want to know the source? >> it wasn't credibility so much as trying to follow the threads that were mentioned about individuals. as i already stated, some of it was useful and some of it was not. >> well, did the president know that mr. blumenthal was advising you? >> he wasn't advising me. mr. chairman -- >> did he know he was your most prolific e-mailer that we have found on the subjects of libya and benghazi? >> that's because i didn't do most of my work on libya on e-mailing. >> i'm not challenging that,
madam secretary. i'm not challenging that. all i'm telling you is the documents show he was your most prolific e-mailer on libya and benghazi. my question to you is did the president, the same white house that said you can't handle -- can't hire him, did he know that he was advising you? >> he was not advising me. and i have no reason to have ever mentioned that or know that the president knew that. >> i want to draw your attention to an e-mail about libya from mr. blumenthal to you dated april 2011. it would be exhibit 67. this is informative. should we pass on, in parentheticals, unidentified to the white house. if you were going to pass something on to the white house, why take off the identifiers? >> because it was important to evaluate the information and from a lot of intelligence i have certainly reviewed over the years, you often don't have the source of the intelligence.
you look at the intelligence and you try to determine whether or not it is credible, whether it can be followed up on. >> well, i'm going to accept the fact that you and i come from different backgrounds because i can tell you that an unsourced comment could never be uttered in any courtroom. >> we are not talking about courtrooms, mr. chairman. we are talking about intelligence. >> we are talking about credibility and the ability to assess who a source is. and whether or not that source has ever been to libya, knows anything about libya, or has business interests in libya, all of which would be important if you are going to determine the credibility, which i think is why you probably took this information off of what you sent to the white house. but here's another possible explanation. that may give us a sense of why maybe the white house didn't want you to hire him in the first place. in one e-mail, he wrote this about the president and secretary of defense. i infer gates' problem as losing an internal debate, tyler, by
the way, that's who actually authored the cables that you got from mr. blumenthal, tyler knows him well and says he's a mean, vicious little -- i'm not going to say the word but he did. this is an e-mail from blumenthal to you about the president's secretary of defense. here's another one about the president's national security advisor. frankly, tom's babbling narrative on a phone briefing of reporters has inspired derision among serious foreign policy analysts both here and abroad. here's another one from what you say is your old friend sidney blumenthal. this is a quote from him. i would say obama, and by the way, he left the president part out, i would say obama appears to be intent on seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. he and his political cronies in the white house and chicago are to say the least unenthusiastic
about regime change in libya. obama's lukewarm and self-contradicting statements have produced what is at least for the most operational paralysis. i think that may give us a better understanding of why the white house may have told you cannot hire him. blumenthal could not get hired by our government, didn't pass any background check at all, had no role with our government, had never been to libya, had no expertise in libya, was critical of the president and others that you worked with, shared polling data with you on the intervention in libya, gave you political advice on how to take credit for libya, all the while working for the clinton foundation and some pseudo-news entities and madam secretary, he had unfetterred access to you. and he used that access at least on one occasion to ask you to
intervene on behalf of a business venture. do you recall that? >> you know, mr. chairman, if you don't have any friends who say unkind things privately, i congratulate you. but from my perspective -- >> i would like to think i would correct them. >> i don't know what this line of questioning does to help us get to the bottom of the deaths of four americans. >> i'll be happy to tell you understand that, madam secretary. >> i want to reiterate what i said to congresswoman sanchez. these were originally unsolicited. you have just said that perhaps the main if not the exclusive author was a former intelligence agent for our country who rose to the highest levels of the cia and who was given credit for being one of the very few who pointed out that the intelligence used by the bush administration to go to war in iraq was wrong, so i think that
you know, the sharing of information from an old friend that i did not take at face value, that i sent on to those who were experts, is something that, you know, makes sense but it was certainly not in any way the primary source of or the predominant understanding that we had of what was going on in libya and what we needed to be doing. >> madam secretary, i'm out of time. we will pick this back up the next round but i will go ahead and let you know ahead of time why it's relevant. it's relevant because our ambassador was asked to read and respond to sidney blumenthal's drivel. it was sent to him to read and react to. in some instances, on the very same day he was asking for security. so i think it is imminently fair to ask why sidney blumenthal had unfetterred access to you with
whatever he wanted to talk about and there's not a single solitary e-mail to or from you to or from ambassador stevens. i think that is fair. we will take that up -- >> will the gentleman yield? the gentleman yield? >> sure. >> thank you. mr. chairman, you have made several inaccurate statements over the past month, as you have tried to defend against multiple republican admissions that the select committee has been wasting millions of tax dollars to damage secretary clinton's bid for president. on sunday, you made another inaccurate statement during your appearance on "face the nation" and it's being taken up here and this is the relevance. here's what you said and i quote. there are other folks who may have equities in her e-mails and there may be other entities who are evaluating her e-mails, but my interest, my interest in them is solely making sure that i get
everything i'm entitled to so that i can do my job. the rest of it, classification, clinton foundation, you name it, i have zero interest in it, which is why you haven't seen me send a subpoena related to it, will interview a single person other than brian pagliano because i need to know that the record is complete. i'm going back to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. >> i'm waiting on you. i have been very patient. >> it's coming. just wait. >> i'm waiting on the inaccurate statement. >> i'm getting there. >> we have to take a break. >> it won't take long. you took four minutes over. >> i have let everybody go over, including you, mr. cummings. >> thank you very much. you issued a subpoena to sidney blumenthal on may 19th, 2015, compelling him to appear for a deposition on june 16, 2015. you issued this subpoena unilaterally without giving the select committee members the opportunity to debate or vote on
it. you sent two armed marshals to send the subpoena on mr. blumenthal's wife without ever having requested him to participate voluntarily which he would have done. then you personally attended mr. blumenthal's deposition. you personally asked him about the clinton foundation and you personally directed your staff to ask questions about clinton, the clinton foundation which they did more than 50 times. now, these facts directly contradict the statements you made on national television. >> no, sir. with all due respect, they do not. we just heard e-mail after e-mail after e-mail about libya and benghazi that sidney blumenthal sent to the secretary of state. i don't care if he sent it by morse code, carrier pigeon, smoke signals. the fact that he happened to send it by e-mail is irrelevant. what is relevant is that he was sending information to the secretary of state.
that is what's relevant. with respect to the subpoena, if he had bothered to answer the e telephone calls of the committee he wouldn't have needed a subpoena. >> will the gentleman yield? >> i would be happy to. you have to make sure the record is correct. >> that's exactly what i want to do. >> go ahead. >> i'm about to tell you. i move that we put into the record the entire transcript of sidney blumenthal. we are going to release the e-mails, let's do the transcript. that way the world can see it. >> i second that motion. >> we didn't -- >> motion has been seconded. >> we are not going to take that up at a hearing. we will take that up -- >> mr. chairman, i consulted with the parliamentarian. they inform me we have a right to recorded vote on that motion. you asked for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. that's what we want. let the world see it. >> why is it that you only want mr. blumenthal's transcript released? >> i would like to have all of them released. >> the survivors, even their names? you want that? you want that released? >> let me tell you something. >> the only one you have asked for is sidney blumenthal. that's the only one you asked
for. that and miss mills. >> that's not true. >> that's two out of 54. if you want to ask for some -- >> i ask for a recorded vote on the blumenthal -- you said from the beginning we want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. why don't we just put the entire transcript out there and let the world see it? what do you have to hide? >> these are the only e-mails you have released. in fairness to mr. blumenthal and the american people, in interest of a complete record, if you are going to release the e-mails, release the transcript where he has a chance to give the context of those e-mails. >> you keep referring to blumenthal e-mails. i would hasten to remind both of you, the only reason we have blumenthal e-mails is because those are the secretary of state's e-mails. they're not blumenthal's e-mails. she wanted all of her e-mails released she has been saying since march. i want the entire world to see my e-mails. well, sidney blumenthal's e-mails are part of that. here's what i'll do. i will be happy to talk to the
parliamentaryian because your motion would actually not be in order for a hearing. but at the latest, we will take a vote and the first week we are back after this week, we will have a business meeting, we can take up mr. blumenthal's transcript, we can take up whatever other transcripts you want and while we're there, we can also take up the 20 some odd outstanding discovery requests that we have to different executive branch entities. why don't we just take all of it up then. >> mr. chairman, the allegations made against him are refuted by his own testimony. in the interest of not having -- >> that's your opinion. >> if you disagree, release the transcripts. >> what allegations? >> why conceal the transcripts? even if the motion were not in order, you have the power to release them. >> i will tell you right now, because i'm not going to release one transcript of someone who knows nothing about libya by his own admission while people who risked their lives, you have no interest in their story getting out. you don't want the 18 d.s. agents, you don't want the cia agents.
the only transcript you want released are miss mills and sidney blumenthal. we will take all of this up in november. >> the only person you are interested in asking about during your entire questioning was blumenthal. if you are so interested in him, release the transcript. you selectively released his e-mails. the only witness you have done that for. you are asking why are we only asking for his transcript? >> i will ask the gentleman from california to please do a better job of characterizing. these are not sidney blumenthal's e-mails. these are secretary clinton's e-mails. if you think you heard about sidney blumenthal so far, wait until the next round. we are adjourned. >> we have been going for three hours, 17 minutes. we are looking at approximately an hour-long break and then the prospect of at least five hours on the other side. an ugly ending there to the
first session. let's go, we have a lot of people to talk to and we should say at the outset that we have microphones in the hallway outside, hoping that members of this committee will stop by them and talk about the testimony thus far. so we may have to interrupt to go to that scene right there. let's go to andrea mitchell in washington. andrea, you found yourself a part of this on the subject of sidney blumenthal. for the benefit of the folks watching at home, who may not be as up on things as members of this committee or their chief witness today, who is sidney blumenthal and why is he such a lightning rod in this session? >> well, for a committee that claims that it's not political and is under attack for that, sidney blumenthal does give them a wedge against hillary clinton because sidney blumenthal was a
former white house staffer, campaign aide, he was particularly partisan, according to republicans, and according to all evidence, against barack obama and then against the republicans during the general election, and so he was the one aide, former aide of hillary clinton's whom we know of who the white house said she could not bring to the state department. they just absolutely said he was too partisan against barack obama during the democratic primaries, we do not want him in this administration. as a result, he was as she testified today, brought in under questioning, i should say, he was given a job, various jobs working for democratic activist groups and for the clinton foundation, for bill clinton, and so he remained engaged within clinton world. he was a friend, a long-standing personal friend, and was one of the more partisan democrats as far as the republicans were concerned. he had a number of e-mails to hillary clinton, he had her
private e-mail and he was advocating a number of policy choices on libya. even though he wasn't an expert by any means on libya, but he was relying on tyler drumfeller, former cia official who had in fact, called it correctly on the iraq war when he was in the cia, now deceased. >> and the snippet we saw where you got brought into this was from "meet the press," a moment where you decided to differ with a member of congress who is on this committee. tell us the background there of that and your decision to step in and disagree. >> well, congressman pompeo, who i have spoken with since and in fact, this morning, is a member of the committee. we were on live television and he suggested that most of her intelligence in libya came from sidney blumenthal which she is saying today in her testimony, i objected, i said that it was not
factually correct because i knew that she did not rely on e-mails for intelligence, she had daily meetings, she was briefed by the cia every day, she did not use e-mail, she didn't have a computer in her office, and that she went through not only the state department intelligence unit, the cia, but national security council meetings, so she had a lot of sources on libya and did not rely on sidney blumenthal for most of her intelligence as she had phrased it on libya. >> chris matthews is also watching and listening with us. he's in san francisco. chris, as clinically as you can, what did we just witness? >> well, the morning really amazed me. in fact, it impressed me that the republicans had such excellent design to the way they introduced the evidence here. it was like they were building a series of concentric circles to try to entrap or rather, give hillary clinton full ownershipship of the tragedy which occurred in 2012. it started with getting her to admit it was her policy to
overthrow gadhafi alongside samantha powers and susan rice. then she brought chris stevens into the mix to work during the revolution against gadhafi, how she was even involved with his security. then they showed how based upon a diminution in the number of e-mails that she lost interest in this case, that she was so focused on in 2011 so in 2012 she wasn't so interested to the point there were a couple of attacks on that facility out there and that she was aware of them, but it's like they began to show it was her baby, she was in charge, she had developed a policy, she was implementing it and somehow began to focus elsewhere. that seems to be their thing. all sins of omission, basically, after tying her to it in terms of buying into the whole thing. but then they went further and they have been after this whole question that somehow she, you know, did worse than that, that she should have known about the 20 attacks, not just two, that she should have known there was a meeting with an al qaeda official or someone, ansar al sharia, one of the al qaeda-related organizations, by
someone under her purview, and tried to really tie her into failure to oversee the situation in benghazi. so the whole process of the morning was a highly choreographed echoreograp choreographed effort to give her ownership of it. where they are weak, if you treat this as an indictment, is not opportunity. she certainly had that to do or not do what she should have done, but motive. is the motive delinquency, is it letting the ball drop, if you will, failure to do your job? is that their motivation they are working on here? it seems to me that is all they have got until they jump to the after the fact, spinning of it which they charge she basically said it was something that came about as a result of that video that was anti-islamic video that was out there and she somehow was covering up what looked to be a terrorist attack on the eve of an election which would have been detrimental to the president. but that's kind of to me a bit hard to sell. what they seem to be doing here all morning long was in a highly designed way, put her at the scene of the crime, if you will, and show that she had the
opportunity to save chris stevens and she didn't do it. >> congressman adam schiff, we heard from toward the end of the session as one of the witnesses in defense of hillary clinton, part of the minority, the democrats on this select committee. he is now with us during the break. congressman, where to begin. what did we just see there at the end? what was the meaning as a member of the committee of that exchange between your ranking member and the chairman? >> the meaning was this. from the very beginning of this committee, we have asked the majority to establish rules. every committee generally operates by rules. this chairman refused. so there are no rules governing what happens. the only rule that applies are the house rules and the house say that you can only release a deposition transcript on a vote and that the minority has a right to a vote. so ever since the deposition of
sidney blumenthal and they began leaking and then released his e-mails, we have been asking for his transcript to be released, we have been asking for a vote on it. they haven't been willing to give us a vote. that's why today really was the first time we were together as a committee, we could insist on a vote, and as you saw the chairman at least thus far has been unwilling to even allow a vote on it, and is attempting to put it off for the future. >> do you concede the optics trying to put ourselves in the shoes of someone watching this all morning, someone at home trying to take it all in, the optics that they went too long with the narrative about the video, the video narrative, the optics of the incoming warnings and requests about security? do you concede those in the hands of a lay observer of this
hearing? >> i'm not sure what you mean by concede those. those were a couple lines of questioning that frankly have been explored in any number of the seven or eight other investigations. as a member of the intelligence community, we went extensively through in our investigation how the talking points about the video were put together and we discovered there that the cia initially had some assessments that it began as a protest, it had other assessments that it did not. there were conflicting assessments but the overall conclusion initially by the intelligence community was this began as a protest and they took advantage of the protest to attack the facility. later, and it was about a week or so later, we actually got the videotape. that's what we knew definitively there had been no protest. those lines of questioning you heard today are nothing new. they are being relitigated again. we disposed of those rumors or allegations in the intelligence committee in a committee that was led by a republican
chairman. so this is really well-trod ground. it may be the first time a lot of your viewers are seeing it, if they haven't been tuned in as much over the course of the last two years, but it's nothing new for the committees that have been investigating this. >> do you think what happened there at the end proved mr. mccarthy's point that mr. mccarthy was making in an interview with fox news? >> absolutely. the whole conduct of the committee up until now has proved it. the fact that secretary clinton alone is our witness this year proves it. the fact she is sitting alone proves it. the fact that even the chairman of the committee would spend his entire time asking about sidney blumenthal, someone who was not in benghazi, not a witness to what was going on, not a decision maker, had nothing to do with military stand-down orders or any of these other things, the fact that they would focus on this tells you this is about hillary clinton. this is about i think trying to score points, trying to get that sound bite on the news that helps to undermine her campaign,
and i have to say, i think it's a horrible abuse of the congress' power. >> the democrats on the committee seem unanimous in how they have labeled this committee effort. have you discussed the idea of walking, of saying it's all yours, to further call attention to the effort, or do you feel as your actions would indicate that you can do more help from the inside? >> you know, we have discussed this from the beginning. not with the perspective of whether we can do more help from the inside but rather, are we giving credibility to a committee that really has none by our presence. what we have concluded thus far is that being in the room has allowed us to correct the misrepresentations to the record and probably the most graphic example is what happened last week when the chairman himself issued a 13-page letter breathlessly saying that the secretary had endangered lives by communicating the name of cia source in an unprotected e-mail.
well, we learned from the cia less than 48 hours later no, that's not true, that e-mail wasn't classified, that source's name was well known and not classified, and then the coda on all this was the committee itself leaked the person's name. if we're not in the room it is hard to point out the untruth of a lot of what the committee has been saying. so we are balancing that against the fact that by being there, by showing up, we give some patina of respectability to a committee that really has none. >> congressman adam schiff, democrat, california, thank you very much for joining us during the break. we will see you during the second session. to our friends here in the studio, nicole wallace, veteran of the 43 bush camp and the mccain campaign effort, i think that's fair, rachel maddow, lawrence o'donnell. nicole, your take on what became of the morning session there at the end. >> i feel like i have fallen down alice in wonderland's rabbit hole.
i'm not sure how this is a committee without credibility when they are reading from a stack of e-mails sent from one democrat to another. i couldn't help in listening to that most recent back and forth, my mind went to joe biden who decided yet at 12:30 p.m. not to run for president. it was because of exchanges like that. where hillary clinton's closest foreign policy political friend and advisor was trashing tom donlin, calling him a babbling idiot. this is a sitting secretary of state in receipt of e-mails at best disparaging her boss and his advisors and at worst, trafficking in ugly smears against him. we have been talking about politics all day. there are plenty of politics on the democratic side as well. this is at the root of the obama white house, distrust of her in the early days. i think -- >> you and i are friends. i have sent you e-mails that you would not be proud of the way that i characterized people who you worked for, people who you have been associated with in
politics. you shouldn't be held responsible for receiving those e-mails from me. sidney blumenthal was not hillary clinton's top foreign policy advisor. he was her old friend that didn't work for her. >> the largest stack of e-mails in her unclassified system, we have to assume there was plenty of intel she received that was never classified, that was briefed the way the president gets briefed by two cool spies who tell you stuff because they can't write it down. the notion that somehow this is a republican fabrication, this is her in-box. >> how can she control what she receives? >> she can't but that doesn't make it a politically motivated line of questioning. >> it doesn't make it relevant to benghazi. >> in the opening statement they said the question was how was libya policy made. it is certainly -- you don't have to like it. 46% of the american public is not satisfied with the answer she's given on this matter. it is not out of line to ask who influenced her policy making. obviously, she can say i didn't listen to anything sid said, i
thought he was a creep, but it's not -- the republicans didn't put his e-mails in her in-box. >> he has never been to libya, had no apparent influence on any policy decision, had no role in government, had no formal connection to anything involved here, and he says he has no idea what was going on in that country at the time. >> he spent an awful lot of time reading e-mails from a blowhard who knew nothing. >> proportionally, the amount of interaction she had with sidney blumenthal, we have no idea, we can argue -- the ambassador who died was a member of the diplomatic koorcorps. does every ambassador have the secretary of state's e-mail? was that true of colin powell? >> he was a meaningless person who sent her a whole lot of e-mails she obviously read because she responded to them. the ambassador whose life was lost didn't have her e-mail. >> why would an ambassador have the secretary of state's direct private e-mail?
>> lots of secretaries of state know the ambassador. >> would you say colin powell when he was secretary of state that all ambassadors had the direct access to him? >> i have no idea who colin powell e-mailed with. >> this is putting sidney blum enthal on trial. this is a partisan effort to make hillary clinton look like a bad democrat. it has nothing to do with figuring out what happened in benghazi. >> she has an 80% approval rating among democrats. democrats think she's a perfectly adequate democrat. >> maybe these hearings can bring those numbers down. >> this goes to the root of what her policy influences were. you can think whatever you want about the committee. but it's a fairy tale to say that it's politically motivated. >> it's ridiculously politically motivated. >> trey gowdy didn't e-mail her. >> my most prolific e-mailer is the most annoying frequent flyer program i have. i get e-mails from the nigerian prince. i get e-mails from people i went to high school with.
none of us should be held accountable for that being an influence on our thought in a way we are not allowed to argue against. >> lawrence o'donnell, i know that same nigerian prince. >> very persuasive. >> you have been listening patiently. >> the simple headline at the end of the first three hours is if this is all they have, they have nothing. we had every right to expect to learn something this morning that we hadn't heard before. this committee has been working for a long time. they didn't do that. and this is about the chairman, a committee operates under the authority of a chairman. weak chairmen run hearings like this. strong chairmen get their strength not by the toughness with which they bang the gavel. they get their strength through cooperation, respect and open dealings with the other side. that's why the most important investigative hearing in the history of this country, the watergate hearings, were conducted in a completely fair
and open manner and you can always tell how serious an investigative committee is if the members are asking the questions, it's not serious. the watergate committee, the special counsels asked virtually all the questions. sam dash, the democratic counsel, became a star. fred thompson became a star, the republican counsel. i showed an exchange last night that they had in the watergate hearing where at the end of fred thompson's questioning, sam dash said i just have a few questions because mr. thompson really did a fine job. i don't have to do that much. that's the way a real investigative committee hearing works. that's not what you're seeing here. >> we will take a break in our discussion. we will resume our discussion when we come right back. i am totally blind.
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democrats. the minority leader in effect on the committee is congressman cummings from maryland, who we just saw in a pitched or verbal battle with trey gowdy of south carolina. luke russert from his position in the hallway just grabbed the congressman and has just sent in this brief interview. >> we simply, he was asking questions about the blumenthal e-mails and we have for months been asking him to release the entire transcript which we have no problem with. nor do we have a problem with him releasing the transcripts of the other 53 witnesses that have come before our committee as long as the appropriate redactions are made. and that was our concern, that the one person that he releases the transcripts for was
blumenthal. well, if you are going to do that with regard to blumenthal, put out his whole transcript and by the way, a lot of the issues that were raised in the questions raised in the e-mails are the same things that were asked in the deposition. so that's why we wanted the entire transcript released. >> reporter: do you think that so far, there's been a shall we say interesting focus on blumenthal more so than you would have expected beforehand? >> no doubt about it. for some reason, they seem to be -- i don't even understand it. because again, this was a friend that would send her e-mails. all of us have friends outside of government that have sent us e-mail. i don't know. i don't know what that's all about. actually, they will in the next five or six hours while we're
here, will tell you more about why they are pursuing that line of questioning. and perhaps maybe he will tell us why they released the e-mails of mr. blumenthal and not any others. >> reporter: where do you see this going now? you going to continue to play aggressive defense as you have? >> let me be clear. i am not here to defend hillary clinton. she can do that for herself. i'm here to defend the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. so help me god. >> reporter: thank you, mr. cummings. >> lawrence, congressman is an emotional guy. the only angriest i have seen him was after the baltimore violence. he really, really lost his temper, genuinely out of fear for his hometown and home district. let's speak english here. again, for the folks watching at home who are not washington insiders, are truly outside the bubble, what is it about sidney
blumenthal? why is he such a radioactive -- >> this was the thing i was hoping to get the answer to. we came close to it. i think we have got it. this seems to be what they established. congressman westmoreland did it in the clearest way. he said to hillary clinton in effect so sidney blumenthal has your personal e-mail address but chris stevens doesn't. now, there's a much more effective way to say it. he could have said chris stevens, your personal friend who you sent into harm's way when you were sending him into harm's way you never said to him by the way, i don't use state department e-mail, i use this. if you need anything, you can e-mail me directly. that's basically what they want, this contrast. this useless guy, blumenthal, has your address and this guy who is so important to your effort doesn't. now, what that means in terms of the entire evidentiary base of what happened in this story isn't much. it's the kind of thing where you
are trying to suggest that she was a little callous about chris stevens. that's all you can get out of that. but you can't get any culpability out of it. >> rachel, it's more than that. his last name might as well be sidney boogeyman. it's that palpable. >> this is a very partisan process. first statement this morning was from chairman gowdy, who is incredibly well spoken, successful prosecutor, talks very well, speaks clearly, makes great sound bites. the first thing he did was talk about how terrible all those democrats are on the committee and how you won't hear anything constructive from any of these democrats, just watch. it ended in what was basically a partisan hockey fight between him and elijah cummings at the end of that. the sidney blumenthal stuff is just about the character of hillary clinton as a democrat and whether or not it can be used to wedge, to drive a wedge between her and the obama administration, to drive a wedge between her and other democrats,
to make her look like she is somehow not worthy of support as a political character. it has absolutely nothing to do with benghazi, with embassy security, or with what happened either before, during or after that attack. >> the blumenthal -- >> hockey fight, i like. >> there's no penalty box, sadly. >> the whole blumenthal thing does not have the power to do what rachel is saying they want it to do. it is not that powerful an element. it's and unfollow-able element. it has no meaning even to those of us who know a lot about this. >> nicole, do you really think the prior seven slash eight investigations left holes large enough to require what we are seeing today? >> well, they didn't have all the information, those prior seven committees, so i don't know if it's that they didn't subpoena them, i don't know if it was that their work was completed before those documents could be produced. producing documents i know from the white house can be a timely process, from the state
department, obviously. the e-mails they were reading, some of them were turned over as recently as two weeks ago so i don't know the answer to what holes were left. i do know that they have new information. notice that the democrats are interested in putting a wedge between hillary clinton and obama is ridiculous. >> the republicans. >> that wedge exists and the republicans on the committee, i do not deny that their efforts have been sullied by the comments of kevin mccarthy but it is not fair to suggest that trey gowdy's motive in any of this was political. he's a prosecutor. if he sounds mean, i think people are saying that off camera, he can sound intense and mean. it is from sort of that prosecutorial zeal perhaps that he has about the data, about the facts, about the evidence. >> he said he's not a prosecutor today. he said he's just a fact finder. >> i think he's prosecuting -- >> the big mistake is making trey gowdy chairman. the chairman should be susan brooks. susan brooks, a former u.s. attorney herself, made a very
calm presentation. she had exhibits that were kind of gimmicky and all that but she didn't have anger. trey gowdy, from word one -- >> he's angry at kevin mccarthy. >> i don't care. his job is to do this well. marshall mclewin told him to do this well, which is not to come on and be red-hot angry which he was from word one. >> i was just going to ask the same question of all three of you. as clinically as you can, as a pro in the world of politics, how is the secretary of state doing? >> she's doing fine. i mean, she has been fortified by her recent political successes. this is another test that i think we talked earlier this morning about how every time she sort of passes another one of these hurdles, she had sat out there wherever she was, martha's vineyard and said oh, man, i got a lousy fall coming up, smoking a cigarette, whatever she does. i got through biden, i got
through the debate and if she gets through this, i think she's doing fine. >> i like the charlie rangel voice. >> she had these tough things to deal with this fall. she has so far cleared all of them. i thought she was extraordinarily calm and we were saying again, i can't remember what we said on tv and what we said in the break but the more intense they got, she seem steeled by it. >> calm wins. calm wins the camera. she learned that lesson from her previous appearance where she said that thing about what difference did it make. she said that in anger. adam schiff -- but hillary clinton has not had one moment of anger. she hasn't had one moment of frustration. she's let every republican do that. >> you can watch her self-regulate. she will come up to a line and regulate. rachel? >> a couple very sensitive moments in part of her opening statement when she talked about her pride in serving our country. at the end right before the break, right before the hockey fight when she was talking about
how the previous investigations into things like beirut and like the embassy bombings have been done in such a constructive and honorable way and she has hope that can be done again. that was not just reserve. this was almost just reserved b emotional in a softer way that i thought was engaging. but honestly, i think what's going on here, there was a line crossed when congressman pompeo i think raised the possibility that the state department was in cahoots with al qaeda in libya. that there are unnamed state department personnel that were secretly meeting with al qaeda and doesn't she know about it. there was a little bit of a jump the shark quality to what's going on there. >> where he said they build these concentric circles around the facts, around the case but where where they have a big dpaping hole was motive. what motive could there have been? >> the state department is part of al qaeda! >> they cannot agree they have
not established, none of this 46% of the american people who still have questions wonders if she had any motive to put personnel in dangers. >> chris matthews, in true congressional tradition now that your name has been invoked -- >> there was a lot of depth to this. 1992 covering the new hampshire primary where bill clinton managed to call it a win even though he was eight points behind tsongas that night. we were out there driving around in the car, you, me, walter isaacson and somebody called sid blumenthal. he didn't have much of a paycheck but had a lot of influence. there are certain kind of people who have been journalists who are good at pollinating. they'll have an angle, usually negative. and they can plant it in a lot of different places. you'll see a column show up against you. i've been through this. that guy doesn't even know me, why is he coming out against me? think about guys like sid.
they're like characters out of ayn rand like ellsworth tuohy. and they manage to get stories out, whether monica lewinsky being a stalker, i don't know who put that one out, but he's very good at it. people like sid, he's charming and a great sense of humor and boy does he have the scuttle butt. he's enjoyable to be with. he's not enjoyable as an adversary. he's so loyal to the clintons, it has to be a matter of religion. he fell in love with the clintons to the point that the people in days inn said he's more in the tank than we are, than carville and begala. he was totally in love with bill clinton. you see it play out with hillary clinton. one time i called her up and i said bill clinton's got to go and cover the funeral of lady diana, princess diana. and he said, no, that's hillary's. i mean, i just tell you, this is the kind of scuttle butt and people out of washington say do they really talk like that?
yes, that's how they talk. >> a saucer of milk to san francisco, he didn't have much of a paycheck but a lot of influence. i love that one. rachel maddow, you get the first post hearing interview with secretary clinton. >> that's right. >> give us the first preview of a first question you may be asking her post hearing. >> well, we'll see how it goes in round two. if, as chairman gowdy promised, round two will be all about sidney blumenthal, that may be an unavoidable topic if only to get her take on why that's become the central element of the republican inquisition into what happened in that attack. i should mention in this interview i have with her tonight will be her first opportunity to comment on joe biden not running. she was reserved in her comments during process, saying that it was his decision to make alone. i'd like her to respond to that, talk about what it means to be
the place she's in in the field right now. honestly right now, nicole is right that these hearings thus far have helped her politically more than hurt her politically. i used to do mock trials when i was in high school. >> you're such a geek. >> i'm such a geek. i wasn't smart enough to do -- >> i quit swim team to do mock trials. kids pretending to be lawyers. i was pretending to be a prosecutor. i won. but we were so full of ourselves. we thought we were so great. we had all these flourishes and we watched l.a. law. then right before our finals, our coach on mock trial brought in a real lawyer to come in and observe us and then show us how she would do it. and it was kind of like -- >> crushing your dreams. >> that's what it feels like today. she knows what she's doing and there's kids showing off. >> sidney blumenthal and the parlance of our realm is what we call a tease, when we say we'll
have more on that when we come right back. and certainly trey gowdy said as much about blumenthal. what else can there be? >> it's a big mistake to come back to sidney blumenthal. look, the one thing that this committee we know has uncovered and we would not know were it not for this committee is the whole clinton e-mail system. that's their work. the only reason they found that out was through subpoena power. people had been doing freedom of information act requests to the state department for years and getting all the e-mails involving a certain subject and on the secretary line it would come back saying we have no maels on the secretary. and no one ever figured out that's because she doesn't use their system. so they need to justify the importance of the e-mails. they need to make bernie sanders understand why they think this matters. and there's a very simple way to do it. one is to say to her based on this chris stevens not having
her personal e-mail address, go back to that and say, do you now redpret violating the obama administration policy about not using your government e-mail? and if you did, if you had had a state department e-mail address, do you think chris stevens might have had a chance to have better communication with you and do you thing you would have maybe had better communication by using a state department e-mail address? >> this is a veteran of hearings on capitol hill. we will be right back with more of our coverage right after this.
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morning thus far, which, as rach pointed out, really differed from start to finish. if you missed the middle of this hearing. >> typically, brian, the chairman would have been the first person to do the questioning of such a high profile witness. they organized it quite differently. and as chris talked about how it was sort of team ball on the republican side to establish different facts along the way. that heated fight that broke out at the end -- i guess mr. cummings only had about 3 hours and 10 minutes in him before he blew. that's a simmering fight between democrats and republicans over releasing the transcripts. and from my reporting here talking to sources gowdy's intention is to release all of the transcripts at the end. democrats say this has gone on too long, people need the information now. gowdy would counter and say, when they're talking about, now, 54 witnesses, in a typical case in a state trial court, for example, you would say you don't let other people who will testify know what others who have come before them actually
said. he sort of applying that here. whereas releasing the e-mails, the e-mails cannot change, they're documents, those can be analyzed in whatever lens people bring to it. but the statements of sidney blumenthal during his interview or more recently when we saw huma abedin or cheryl mills, close associates of hillary clinton testifying before the committee. i'm told there have been ten cia related individuals who testified, four from the department of defense and that all of that will come out later. i think for what we've learned through the reporting about the blumenthal impact here, you're just adding to your discussion, the idea that blumenthal had this access, that hillary clinton tasked ambassador stevens with getting some information based on some of the things blumenthal sent to her. and so one of the questions republicans have is that if his inquiries about security weren't reaching her, if she was giving him a job to do on the ground, was that in some way having an
unfair influence of sidney blumenthal and maybe an ineffective influence and yet some of these other concerns were not reaching her desk? that's sort of where this is at. the other point that gowdy certainly brought out was clinton said these are unsolicited e-mails and he tried to demonstrate where there were instances where hillary clinton appeared through her responses to ask for more. then the biggest other piece that republicans were looking to do here through these e-mails is to show that in one sense hillary clinton speaking to some of her diplomatic colleagues or her family described the attack itself in a different way than a public statement. now, that's not unusual for people to have two different kinds of conversations, front stage, backstage for public life, but could that be an area where perhaps hillary clinton contributed to the misinformation? that's what they were trying to get at from their point of view. >> andrea mitchell, folks watching at home recognize from tv shows the kind of courtroom
and hearing tricks, the bag of tricks that exists for both sides to use. when congressman roscom said to secretary clinton, i'll wait if you want to consult your notes, and she assured him she could do two things at once. but for this enigma that is sidney blumenthal for viewers, did your friend chris matthews get closer to solving the enigma that is sidney blumenthal? >> yes, indeed. and you know, this has in some ways, some would say, a side show because it indicates that someone who doesn't have foreign policy experience was weighing in and is a friend and is political and all the rest, but i still think that the pushback is going to be what impact did that have on policy making? to the point of the so-called talking points? that's all been explored by all the other committees. the bottom line there was that the cia was writing the talking points, giving them to the state
department, the state department and the white house, susan rice, sent out their sacrificial lamb on sunday to go and do all the talk shows. perhaps she should have gone back and said, why am i saying this? but it was basically to mask the fact that we had such a big intelligence operation in benghazi and until it was revealed later and declassified, none of the officials, not victoria newland or anyone else, could actually say that. so there was a lot of dispute about that and a lot of dispute, of course, as to whether they were trying to say that this benghazi attack before they had actually seen the video from the security cameras a week later, that this benghazi attack somehow was related to what was happening in egypt. the fact is that there were people within the intelligence community and the state department suggesting a linkage, but it was before they really knew what they were talking about and it is the fog of war. it is what led to a lot of the accusations. getting back to the original
question about sid blumenthal, i have long felt that this was a really inside washington story, but clearly this committee believes if they can show that someone with no foreign policy experience was weighing in so heavily to her and that she was in fact soliciting and saying send me more information, that she was breaking out of the bubble of the state department and seeking other information, but seeking it from someone she trusted. and the question is was she using bad judgment in trusting him on this subject? >> in a slightly larger societal bubble. >> yeah. >> andrea mitchell, thanks. again for speaking english on some of what we've just seen. joe rubin has been standing by very patiently to talk to us. former deputy assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs. a friend of the late ambassador, someone who obviously knows the secretary. joe, your reaction to the secretary's -- i'm just sorry, joel. i know that sounded like joel.
it was not intended to. your reaction to the secretary's performance so far in the face of this kind of incoming barrage? >> thank you, brian. she was a giant among amateurs. i testified to this committee back in january and the antics that we saw today were the antics that i experienced as well. although they did let the secretary answer some questions this time as opposed to when i testified. she answered the questions clearly. this is the kind of display coming out of congress that really makes people at the state department concerned. i was a career officer at the state department for years. i came back in as an administration official recently. and people at state don't want their security to be jeopardized. when they watch congress using their security as a political football, not approving budgets, not supporting the men and women who serve overseas directly, it makes them concerned. and i think from that perspective, we have to really
look for what this committee is trying to achieve. is it trying to help our people in the field and help our security or do something that looks more like a partisan witch hunt which is where it seems to be heading? >> i always say that president lyndon johnson who know how washington worked would call the desk officer at state when he had a question about any nation on the planet and he knew that there was a desk officer tasked with knowing everything knowable about that nation. the staggering load on the staff does become evident to you when you listen to the raw numbers of incoming e-mails. on just this one topic, in just this one country. when you think that right now what's coming in from paris, from kenya, from london, and it all has to get sorted, processed and answered. >> that's right. >> by all of your former colleagues. >> that's right, brian. you hit the nail on the head.
the volume of information right now that officers at the state department have to consume is tremendous. i was a desk officer on the egypt desk and i did receive calls directly from members of congress when i served. it was very helpful for them because we could filter it. but today with social media, with twitter, facebook accounts, the classified information coming through, 80% of the information that individuals at state are reading is unclassified, but they still have to integrate that with what they learn through classified channels. it's very complex. there is a system, but it's a highly burdensome one. so these committees, when they go forward and subject the department to multiple requests for documents, then complain about why they're not getting documents fast enough and don't prioritize for the state department, which is what happened here, it makes it very difficult for officers in main state, in headquarters to get their jobs done. and it's a problem. >> joe, while i did not know your friend, the late
ambassador, i theorize based on everything i've learned about him, during this morning's coverage, that he was someone who liked to walk gently without fuss or entourage. it was a matter of pride that he would bicycle around. it was a matter of pride that he toured the souk, once a week, the outdoor market. it was a plan to plant the flag in benghazi for him. what else should be remembered about this man, one of the four who died whose voice is not heard in this hearing? >> chris was beloved here in washington. i first met chris when we were both staffers on capitol hill. he also started his career as a peace corps volunteer, as did i. he want to be with the people. he wanted to make positive change. that's why he went out there. he sought to make a better future for the libyan people. that's the example that we all should be striving for. >> thank you very much for being with us and for your patience.
rachel, that's the portrait that emerges over and over. kind of sad that these four bios, these four lives are touched on but not dwelled on. >> and they've been at least for now in the middle of this process, they've been subsumed into being subject matter for a process that has very little to do with them as individuals and a lot to do with politics. i think ultimately, that ends up not being the case in the long run. not just friends and family but people who have come to learn about them through this process will remember them for what they were doing there and how heroic their actions were before they lost their lives and the heroic way in which they were killed doing what they loved. that will bear out. but on a day like today we're in the muck and the mire. and this is as partisan a thing i have ever seen happen in washington. everything in washington is partisan. this is just no less so. and the solemnity of this occasion and the contrast with the way it's being treated today
with the screaming that are purely along partisan lines makes you want to take a shower. >> i want to go back to the point of how was the libya policy formulated. because apparently the republican committee theory is going to be sidney blumenthal fed all this bad thinking into hillary clinton, hillary clinton then just fed all this bad think think into barack obama and ultimately sidney blumenthal who the obama administration did not want to employ ended up controlling president obama. now -- >> via forwarded e-mails. >> yes. this is such fantasy. president obama made the libya policy. if he could be the next witness in that room he could tell you how the libya policy was made. a lot of people in that room and elsewhere believe that president obama was not particularly partial to hillary clinton. she was not his favorite adviser, but in this scenario, they want to make hillary clinton not only his favorite adviser but someone who could control every little decision he
might make about libya. and so hillary clinton ultimately owns the libya policy. she doesn't. she can't. barack obama owns the libya policy. he used many more avenues of advice than even hillary clinton knows he used within the government. >> nicole wallace. >> well, listen, i want to take a shower sometimes when we impugn the motives of everybody involved. trey gowdy's motive was to investigate and understand how four innocent people lost their life. let me tell you something about an ambassador like that. when a codel -- >> congressional delegation. >> -- flies over to a war zone, the ambassador pays the same amount of attention to republicans and democrats. ambassador stevens had supporters on both sides of the aisle who would not have tolerated a process that was corrupted in its inception. political things can happen and
we can all react however we feel about what we're seeing today, but the committee was formed -- we talked about this at 9:00 this morning, before it all started, by speaker boehner and trey gowdy was selected because he had the investigation into these deaths as a true motive. and that's how it started. now listen. >> formed at the national republican congressional committee send out a fund raiser saying donate to the republican party and you can become a benghazi watch dog. >> i didn't mean to throw my pen at you. >> raising money off this -- >> you just said that hillary's not to blame for the maels that sid bloomumenthal sent to her b trey goud se responsible for -- >> fund-raising paing operation >> republicans do stupid things, democrats do stupid things. >> trey gowdy could have done a better job of achieving what you want. and boehner could have, too. the chairman could have said to all of his members when they were chosen, here are our
private rules on the republican side. not one of you will ever do a public interview about the business of this committee. >> i bet he wishes he had made that rule. >> but he's not professional enough to have done it. he was a failed choice for this role. i'm not going to his motivation. i don't know what it is. >> we impugn his motivation in the way we did trey gowdy's. >> i'm not saying a word about his motivation. i'm saying about his ability and his performance. he's been a failure. >> his demonstrated behab year here is the problem. whether he has pure motives in his heart we don't know. but the way this has happened is significantly more partisan. >> democrats have been as partisan as anything the republicans have. the democratic smears against this committee i haven't seen anything like it in my life. the fact it's descended into such an ugly place. >> kevin mccarthy gave it the biggest smear. >> he's not on the committee. he's not on the committee. >> but he's the house majority
leader. he's the house majority leader. we created this committee and look what happened -- >> no, what he said -- >> i'll give you credit for that. that was the best part of this interview. >> just get a word in here. our witness is seated, and i believe we're getting gavel back into order -- >> thank you, hillary clinton. >> -- for the afternoon session. again we could be in for four or five hours of testimony here. get comfortable, as they say. let's turn up the mikes and listen to what we can.
>> we're all familiar with the sound of milling. there's much milling about. we're still waiting for a couple members to fill out the select committee. and we're waiting for the audience to settle. we didn't want you to think we'd gone anywhere. then chairman gowdy will gavel us back. so we're watching along with you. there's congressman cummings.
>> come back to order. madam secretary with your indulgence, we'll take up one housekeeping matter. the question is on the motion of the gentleman to include the document and the record the chair opposes the motion those in favor of the motion may sniff by so by saying aye. those opposed by no. >> mr. chairman, i ask for a recorded vote. >> the recorded vote has been
requested. chairman says -- the chairman's vote -- i'm sorry. secretary, call the role. >> mr. westmoreland. >> no. >> mr. westmoreland votes no. mr. jordan. >> who? i'm sorry? i couldn't hear. >> sorry, mr. jordan. >> no. >> mr. jordan votes no. mr. roscom? >> no. >> mr. roscom votes no. mr. pompeo. mr. pompeo votes no. >> so lawrence o'donnell, veteran of capitol hill. this is a rote doomed to failure
because of the republican majority. this is voting whether or not to release the transcripts of one sidney blumenthal who we're about to hear more about. >> yes, and who we heard a lot about this morning. so the democrats said if we're going to do this, why don't we release the entire transcript of his whole interview rather than selected pieces of e-mail. >> the clerk will report. >> and mr. gowdy. >> no. >> mr. gowdy votes no. yeas 5, noes 8. >> and the motion is not agreed to. madam secretary -- >> my apologies, sir. it was 7. >> motion still not agreed to. even south carolina math can figure that out.
madam secretary, before we broke, there was a question asked that i thought was a fair question which is why was i talking about mr. blumenthal's e-mails. i do think that's a fair question. i think it's an equally fair question to ask why you were reading mr. blumenthal's e-mails. i think both are fair. so i want to go to june of 2012, which is an interesting time period to look at. charlene lamb was an employee of the state department and she sent an e-mail which you may be familiar with, tag 56, i won't read it. it's at tab 56 where she described benghazi as a soft target, attacks on americans, not staffed adequately. it's a very haunting e-mail to read. it was exactly three months to the day when our four fellow citizens were killed. that's on june 7th, 2012.
also on june 7th of 2012, your deputy chief of staff mr. jake sullivan is e-mailing ambassador stevens asking the ambassador to look at a memo sidney blumenthal sent you. and in fact, mr. sullivan writes to the ambassador, chris, checking in with you on this report. any reactions? all right. that's on exactly the same day that, i believe, our ambassador's papers were accepted in libya. the day after an ied attack on our compound, and chris stevens is being asked to read and react to an e-mail by sid me blumenthal from your deputy chief of staff. this is what he's writing on the 7th. this is after he's been turned down on a request for more security. this is our ambassador.
appreciate you giving this proposal consideration even if the conclusion was not favorable for us. we'd be interested in pursuing the other avenue you suggest, high threat trained agents. best, chris. so i've got this contrast in my mind. the ambassador is newly in place. it's a day after an attack on our facility. your deputy chief of staff is sending him an e-mail from sidney blumenthal asking him to take time to read and react to it. and then the best of my recollection that's forwarded to you. so help us understand how sidney blumenthal had that kind of access to you, madam secretary, but the ambassador did not? >> mr. chairman, because i think that your question does help to clarify matters. chris stevens e-mailed regularly
about jake sullivan, one of my closest aides in the state department. he could have e-mailed to mr. sullivan knowing that it would have been immediately responded to on any issue that was of concern to him. and he did not raise issues about security on that day or other days. and i think it's important to recognize that when an ambassador is at post overseas, especially one as experienced a diplomat as chris stevens, he knows where to pull the levers, where to go for information, where to register concerns, and i think he did exactly as one might have expected. he dealt with security issues through dealing with the security professionals who were the ones making the assessments. and i think that ambassador
stevens understood completely that that's where the experts were and that's where anything he requested or anything he was questioning should be directed. >> speaking of experts, who was victoria newland? >> a very experienced diplomat. she served as our ambassador to nato appointed by president george w. bush. she served as one of the advisers as a foreign service officer delegated to the white house for vice president cheney. she served as the spokesperson for the state department during my tenure, and she's currently the assistant secretary for europe under secretary kerry. >> she wrote this to the ambassador on june the 13th, 2012, that is a week after the facility was attacked. it is only a handful of days after he was turned down on a specific request for more security. chris, i know you have your hands full, but we'd like your
advice about public messaging on the spate of violence in libya over the past ten days. so she's asking him for help with public messaging. jake sullivan, which is the other half of the question that i don't think we got to. i understand that chris stevens was a rule follower. i understand that. i've got no qualms. my question was actually not why chris stevens didn't contact you but why did jake sullivan send chris stevens a sidney blumenthal e-mail to read and react to on the day after the facility was attacked, the same day he was denied a request for more security and instead of e-mail traffic back and forth about security, it's read and react to a blumenthal e-mail? >> well, i think any ambassador, if one were sitting before the committee would say that they handled a lot of incoming information and requests, some
of it was about what was happening in country, some of it was about what was happening back in the united states. and chris felt strongly that the united states needed to remain in and committed to libya. so he was concerned that there might be a feeling on the part of some, either in the state department or elsewhere in the government, that we shouldn't be in libya. and he was adamantly in favor of us staying in libya. so part of what the discussion with him and jake sullivan and others was how do we best convey what the stakes the united states has in staying involved in libya would be. and i thought that was, you know, very much in keeping with both his assessment and his experience. >> well, i appreciate your perspective, madam secretary. let me share with you my perspective. if you need to take time to read a note, i'm happy to pause. >> no, i'm just being reminded, which i think is important,
that, you know, remember, chris spent the vast majority of his time in tripoli, not in benghazi. so a lot of what he was looking at is how you deal with not only those in authority positions in libya who were based in tripoli at that time but also representatives of other governments and the like. and i think it is fair to say that any time you're trying to figure out what's the best argument to make, especially if you're someone like chris stevens trying to put together and make the best argument about why the united states should remain committed to libya and others as well, he's going to engage in conversations about that. >> well, with respect, madam secretary, no matter what city has was in in libya, having to stop and provide public messaging advice to your press shop and having to read and respond to an e-mail sent by sidney blumenthal, it doesn't matter what town you're in. he needed security help.
he didn't need help messaging the violence. he needed help actually with the violence. >> well -- >> you have said several times this morning that you had people and processes in place. i want to ask you about an e-mail that was sent to you by another one of your aids, ms. uma abe dean. that would be exhibit number 70 in your folder. she e-mailed you that the libyan people needed medicine, gasoline, diesel and milk. do you know how long it took you to respond to that e-mail? >> well, i responded to it very quickly. >> four minutes. my question and i think it's a fair one is the libyan people had their needs responded to directly by you in four minutes. and there is no record of hour security folks ever even making it to your inbox. so if you had people and
processes in place for security, did you not also have people and processes in place for medicine, gasoline, diesel, milk? >> you know, mr. chairman, i've said it before. i will say it again. i'll say it as many times as is necessary to respond. chris stevens communicated regularly with the members of my staff. he did not raise security with the members of my staff. i communicated with him about certain issues. he did not raise security with me. he raised security with the security professionals. now, i know that's not the answer you want to hear because it's being asked in many different ways by committee members, but those are the facts, mr. chairman. >> no -- >> ambassadors in the field are engaged in many different tasks. they're basically our chief representative of the president of the united states, so they
deal with everything from, you know, foreign aid to security to dealing with the personal requests for visa that come from people in the country they are assigned to. and chris stevens had regular contact with members of my staff, and he did not raise security issues. now, some of it may have been becau because, despite what was implied earlier, there was a good back and forth about security and many of the requests that came from embassy tripoli, both for tripoli and for benghazi were acted on affirmatively. others were not. that is what an ambassador, especially a diplomat as experienced as chris stevens, would expect, that it would be unlikely to be able to get every one of your requests immediately answered positively. so yes, he had regular contact
with my aides. he did not raid security with me. and the security questions and requests were handled by the security professionals. >> madam secretary, with all due respect, those are two separate issues. who chris receivens had access to is one issue, who had access to you and for what is another issue. because you have said you had people and processes in place. you also have people and processes in place for people who want to send you meaningless political advice. you also have people and processes in place for people who want to inquire about milk and diesel fuel and gasoline. you also have people and processes in place for people who want to provide insults towards folks you work with in the administration. all of that made it directly into your inbox, madam secretary. that is my question. my question is how did you decide when to invoke a people and process and who just got to come straight to you? because it looked like certain
things got straight to your inbox and the request for more security did not. and while you're answering that, i want to inform and instruct why i'm asking it. you had mentioned to arb on a number of occasions again today. this was not the first arb. we had one after kenya and tanzania. and that arb could not have been more specific. the secretary of state should personally review the security situation of our embassy facilities. that arb put the responsibility squarely on you. so with respect to that previous arb recommendation, and in contrast what did make your inbox versus what did not, did you personally review our security situation as the previous arb required? >> well, let me see if i can answer the many parts of your question, mr. chairman. yes, personal e-mail came to my personal account. work-related e-mail did as well.
and i also relied on a number of my aides and staff members as well as experienced foreign service officers and civil servants who were similarly engaged in gathering information and sharing it. and as i said and i will repeat, chris stevens communicated with a number of people that i worked with on a daily basis in the state department. so far as i know, he did not raise any issue of security with any of those people. he raised it where he knew it would be properly addressed. if he had raised it with me, i would be here telling you he had. he did not. and so i think it's important to try to separate out the various elements of your question, mr. chairman, and i will do my best to continue to try to answer your questions, but i have said before and i will repeat again,
sid blumenthal was not my adviser, official or unofficial about libya. he was not involved in any of the meetings, conversations, other efforts to obtain information in order to act on it. on occasion, i did forward what he sent me to make sure that it was in the mix. so if it was useful, it could be put to use. and i believe in response to the e-mail you pointed out originally from ambassador stevens, he actually said it rang true and it was worth looking into. so i think it's important that we separate out the fact that mr. blumenthal was not my adviser, he was not an official of the united states government. he was not passing on official information. he, like a number of my friends who would hand me a newspaper article, would buttonhole me at a reception and say what about this, or what about that, were trying to be helpful. some of it was, a lot of it
wasn't. >> chair will now recognize the gentlelady from california. >> thank you. secretary clinton, i listened very clearly when chairman gowdy was questioning in the first round of questioning. i was kind of surprised. we waited more than a year the finally get you up here to testify. we spent almost $5 million and we interviewed about 54 witnesses. and when the chairman finally got his chance to question you, he asked you over -- he quibbled actually over the definition of the word "unsolicited." as if that wasn't bad enough, then he doubled down on this idea that sidney blumenthal was your primary adviser on libya, a claim that we heard "the washington post" awarded four pinocchios. he said on sunday on national television that he had zero interest in the clinton foundation and other topics, but then he just spent his full time, a full question time in the first round asking you about the clinton foundation, media
matters and other topics that don't really have anything to do with the attacks that occurred in benghazi. and my own sense of incredulity was really, really, is this why we've asked you to come to testify about that? the overwhelming sense that i get from the republican side of the ail is they seem to be arguing somehow that sidney blumenthal had access to you while ambassador stevens did not. do you think that that's an accurate statement? >> of course not, congresswoman. you didn't need my e-mail address to get my attention. in fact, most of the work i did, as i said this morning, had nothing to do with my e-mails. it had to do with the kind of meetings and materials that were provided to me through those who were responsible for making decisions on a whole range of issues. and as i just told the chairman, if ambassador stevens had grave concerns that he wanted raised
with me, he certainly knew how to do that. >> he could speak to your office or your staff? >> absolutely. >> or you directly on the telephone? >> absolutely. >> did he ever ask you for your personal e-mail address and you turned him down? >> no, he did not. >> said you can't e-mail me? >> uh-uh. >> the other thing we're hearing from the other side of the aisle is they're arguing that there was in -- you know, security was, you know, it was sort of decomposing in eastern libya. and that no security improvements were ever made to the benghazi outpost. that's not a true statement, is it? >> no, it is not. >> in fact there were many security enhancements that were asked for that were actually made although there were other requests that were made that were not fulfilled, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> the other line of questioning that sort of surprises me is over the course of this investigation, republicans have repeatedly asked why the u.s. was still in benghazi on the night of the attacks.
during the select committee's first hearing which was more than a year ago, the chairman posed the following question -- we know the rick of being in benghazi. tell us what our policy was in libya that overcame those rifbs? in other words, why were we there? and the accountability review board had already answered that question. it explained that benghazi was the largest city and historical power center in eastern libya. further went on to say, although the rebel-led transitional national council declare that tripoli would continue to be the capital of post-gadhafi libya, many of the influential players in the tnc remain placed in benghazi. the arb went on to explain that ambassador stevens advocated for a u.s. presence in benghazi and his status as the leading u.s. government advocate on libyan policy and his expertise on benghazi in particular caused washington to give unusual deference to his judgments. secretary clinton, do you agree, was ambassador stevens a leading expert on libya policy and did
you also give his opinions a lot of weight and respect? >> yes, i did, congresswoman. >> and do you recall ambassador stevens advocating from the ground up for continued u.s. presence specifically in benghazi? >> yes, he did. >> in fact, ambassador stevens' e-mails, many of which this committee has had more more than a year confirmed what you just stated. mr. chairman i would ask unanimous consent to enter this document into the record and being passed out to members of the committee? >> no objection. >> this is not one that you've seen befores a 'twas not addressed or sent to you, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> in the e-mail before you then special envoy stevens wrote this proposal for a continued presence in benghazi at ambassador tripoli was reopened following the fall of gadhafi. he suggested two potential models. option "a" was a slimmed down compound and option "b" was a virtual presence with zero full-time state department staff in benghazi.
special envoy stevens sent this e-mail to gene critz, then the ambassador to libya, his deputy chief of mission and the director of the office of magreb affairs. at the time these diplomat hs a combined 83 years of foreign service experience. would the recommendation of this team be give a fair amount of weight within the department? >> yes, it would. >> and is that the way that it should work, that the views of experienced diplomats should count in decision-making? >> they certainly did to me and i think that should be the practice. >> in the same e-mail stevens states but my personal recommendation would be option "a" which was the option for a slimmed-down compound. he then notes a few of his key rationales for wanting to stay. in an earlier e-mail advocating for continued benghazi presence, special enjoy stevens provided more reasons including the opportunity to, quote, monitor political trends and public sentiment regarding the new
libya. the revolution began in eastern libya and the view of these 2 million inhabitants will certainly influence events going forward. secretary clinton, do you agree with ambassador stevens' view that there were important robes to have an ambassador in benghazi despite the risks? >> yes, i do. >> other documents show that ambassador stevens continued to advocate for continued u.s. presence once he became ambassador to libya. in fact, at the end of august just two weeks before the attacks, he was working on a proposal for a permanent presence. as that proposal explained, quote, a permanent branch office in benghazi to provide a permanent platform to protect u.s. national security interests in the region and to promote a stronger, healthier and more vibrant bilateral relationship with the new, free and democratic libya. while ambassador stevens took seriously the significant security incidents in benghazi that occurred in june, he never
decided that the risk outweighed the benefit. and he never recommended closing the post in benghazi. he worked with his counterparts to try to manage that risk as best they could. in its report, the benghazi accountability review board found, quote, the total elimination of risk is a nonstarter for u.s. diplomacy. given the need for the u.s. government to be present in places where stability and security are often most profoundly lacking and host government support is sometimes minimal to nonexistent. secretary clinton, this is such a difficult issue, the balancing of interests. from your perspective as a former senator and secretary of state, how do you best ensure that we are striking the right balance going forward? >> well, congresswoman, thank you for that question because i do think that's what we should be talking about and several of you have posed similar
questions. i think you do start with the best expert and experienced advice that you can get from across our government. and as you rightly point out, chris stevens never recommended that we close benghazi. he advocated for keeping benghazi opened. and as you rightly refer to this e-mail, for a particular configuration that would fulfill the needs of our country being represented there. obviously, you have to constantly do this balancing act that i referred to earlier today. and most times we get it right. in fact, the vast majority of times we get it right. with benghazi, the cia did not have any plans to close their facility. the opinion of those with the greatest understanding of our
mission, our diplomatic mission in benghazi was exactly the same, that we should not close down. we should not leave benghazi. and it's -- you know, obviously something that you have to be constantly evaluating. and all of these difficult, unstable spots around the world. but i appreciate your bringing to the committee's attention the strong opinion of the man who knew the most and was on the ground and who understood what we were trying to achieve in benghazi, ambassador stevens. >> was it your understanding that he certainly understood the risk of being there? >> he definitely understood the risks, yes. >> thank you. i yield back. >> gentlelady xwreelds back. the chair will recognize the gentlelady, ms. brooks. >> i would like to ask you about your decision-making and the
discussions you had as it related to how long the benghazi position would last. i'm putting up a map just because most of us really don't know much about libya, don't know much about the geography of libya. and as we've talked about these various communities, i don't think most people really realized. so i want to share with you that we know from my last round that chris stevens went into benghazi in april of 2011. i want to talk to you about what happened the rest of that year. just because there was a lot going on, i thought it would be helpful to have this map. so by mid-july, our government formally recognized the tnc as the official government of libya replacing the gadhafi regime. tnc was replaced in benghazi at that time. then in august after the gadhafi government fell, gadhafi went over into -- he left tripoli, where gadhafi had been headquartered and he went into hiding in sirte. once that happened the tnc moved
their benghazi headquarter over to tripoli. then in september we reopened our embassy in tripoli and ambassador kretz returned. he'd been evacuated previously. does that sound like an accurate summary of the summer of 2011? >> it does sound accurate except i'm not sure exactly the duration of ambassador stevens' presence in benghazi during those months. >> well, that leads to my next question. what was your plan for the mission in the fall of 2011 and going forward? what were the discussions you had and who did you have those discussions with about the mission of benghazi going forward? 2011? >> well, as you may have heard, congresswoman, the e-mail that congresswoman sanchez introduced into the record was from the
fall of 2011, and there was quite a discussion going on between officials in the state department in the intelligence community, in both washington and libya about the path forward. the transitional national council had been based in benghazi. and there was a dispute even within the libyans themselves as to whether they would split the government, whether the government would be located predominantly but not exclusively in tripoli or, as some were hoping, predominantly but not exclusively in benghazi. so this was all a very live subject that was being debated, both in libya and with respect to what our response would be in washington. so we at chris stevens' strong urging and that others of our experienced diplomats wanted to
maintain a presence in benghazi in some form. we reopened our embassy in tripoli, which had been the historical capital under gadhafi. but this was a constant discussion about what we should do, when and where, and i think that's why this e-mail from chris stevens about his recommendations is so informative. >> thank you. and i'll get to that in just a moment. but i have to ask you -- i assume that your chief of staff cheryl mills was intimately involved with these discussions with you and your staff. she's one of your staff as you were referring to, is that right? >> she covered a broad range of issues. i'm sure she was involved in some of the discussions but she had many other responsibilities. so i can't say all of them. >> i'd like to refer to an update on tripoli operations provided pi cher ed by cheryl m
september 14th. and at the top of that two-page memo, assumptions for benghazi in september were gradual winding down of operations over the next six months, transition to tripoli only transition to tripoli only by january 2012, no consulate. no consulate meant no consulate in benghazi. this was in september. would that be fair and accurate? and would you -- were you in that briefing with ms. mills or did she brief you about the fact that in september the game plan was to shut down benghazi? >> well, i think you have to look at that in context, congresswoman. there was not an active plan for a consulate in benghazi at any point during this period. that is not what the compound in benghazi was. it was a temporary facility placed there to help us make a determination as to what we would need going forward in benghazi -- >> excuse me, madam secretary.
>> there was a strong argument that chris stevens and others made that they hoped eventually there would be a consulate but there was never an agreement to have a consulate. >> if it had been deemed a consulate it would have had a different level of security. is that accurate? that consulates have certain levels of security, there's standards, there's protocols. when it is a consulate it gets a certain level of security? >> that is the hoped-for outcome. that is not what happens in the very beginning in many places especially the hot spots and the conflict areas where a consulate is stood up. >> can you talk with me about the decision then. there is a briefing with respect to dfr ash the closing, rather, of the consulate in benghazi by january 2012. we know it didn't close. it did not close. you went to tripoli in october of 2011. ambassador kretz was still
there. how about chris stevens? did chris stevens come over from benghazi to see you when you went for that big trip in october '11? >> i don't recall. i don't recall if he did or not. this was about ambassador kretz and ambassador kretz was the person that we were meeting with at the time. >> what was your purpose for meeting with ambassador kretz if chris stevens wa your ambassador in libya? >> ambassador kretz was our ambassador. as i mentioned to you before, he'd been our ambassador and then, because he reported very accurately about what he observed regarding gadhafi and gadhafi's henchmen, when wikileaks disclosed internal u.s. government cables and gene kretz's cables were publicized talking very critically about gadhafi, he was then subjected to threats and then we took him
out. we did not close the ambassador at that ti -- embassy at that time. he finished out his time. and we were in the process of moving him to another assignment and nominating chris stevens to replace him. >> but you diplomat during that one trip to libya, you didn't talk to chris stevens best of your recollection. >> i was in libya i don't recall that. of course we consulted with him with respect to planning the trip as to who we would meet with, what we would ask for. we were trying very hard to get the people in positions of authority at that time in libya to let us work with them on everything from border security to collecting weapons and trying to disarm the militias. we had a lot of business we were doing with them. >> so going back to ms. sanchez's e-mail with respect from john stevens to miss polichek. it talks about option "a" slimming down the compound. so he weighed in -- in october
he was weighing in on whether or not the compound would stay open. but i'd like to direct your attention to an e-mail that's at tab 4 dated december 15th from chris stevens. and i might add for the record, we do not still to this day have all of chris stevens' e-mails. we received 1300 more this week. we received most of them last week. we don't have the universe yet of ambassador stevens' e-mails. but he e-mailed to a reporting officer who we know was in benghazi still, he wrote, interesting. has security improved in benghazi in recent weeks? also curious what you guys decided to do regarding future of the compound? he was in washington, d.c., or back in the states during that time and in december, ambassador stevens, your soon to be ambassador didn't know what was going to happen with the compound in benghazi? how is that possible? >> well, congresswoman, one of
the great attributes that chris stevens had was a really good sense of humor. and i just see him smiling as he's typing this because it is clearly in response to the e-mail down below talking about picking up a few, quote, fire sale items from the brits -- >> sure. those fire sale items by the way, fire sale items are barricades. >> that's right. >> they are additional -- >> that's right. >> requests for security. >> that's right. >> for the compound. that's what that fire sale was. because we weren't providing enough physical security for the compound. isn't that right? so they're picking up a fire sale because other consulates are pulling out, other countries are pulling out. >> well, i thought it showed their entrepreneurial spirit. >> absolutely. >> and i applaud them for doing so. we did respond to a number of the security requests, the physical security requests. the posters that were up earlier
this morning were only about the number of diplomatic security personnel. you're talking about physical barriers, physical additions to the compound, there were quite a few of those that were undertaken. >> but how is it that mr. stevens did not know in december whether or not the compound was going to remain open? or do you think that was a joke he was making? >> well, i think that if it were not an example of his sense of humor, it was also as part of the ongoing discussion about mission benghazi's future, which he went to great lengths to describe what he thought should be done. a lot of it was trying to decide could we afford it, could be maintain it, what did we need to have there. so yes, there was an ongoing discussion. and i think he knew he was going to be in line to go to tripoli and he wanted to know exactly what the decision was going to be about the compound. he had weighed in not only in
that e-mail but in numerous discussions with his colleagues at the state department. >> finally secretary clinton, we know that the compound, the benghazi mission was extended for yet another year because that same month your benghazi point person here in washington, jeff feltman sent a memo wanting to extend benghazi through 2012. and he sent it to under-secretary patrick kennedy who approved it. another high level official, who by the way, for the record, state department, has given us none of under-secretary kennedy's e-mails yet, same with jeffrey felton. are you familiar with that memo sent on december 27th entitled future of operations in benghazi libya. are you familiar with that memo? secretary feltman discussed that memo with you at the time and discussed steppeding the mission of benghazi in december of '11? >> i'm familiar there was an
ongoing discussion about the future of the mission in benghazi -- >> a discussion between whom, ma'am? >> between all the relevant officials in the state department. >> help me with understanding -- >> well, jeff felton was one. chris stevens was one but there were others that had information and expertise to add to it. and there was a recommendation that benghazi be continued through 2012 as part of the continuing evaluation of whether or what we want to have on a more permanent basis in benghazi. >> do you recall were you in those discussions? were you specifically in those meetings? you've shared that you didn't a lot by e-mail, more briefings, were you in those meetings about extending benghazi through the end of the year? >> there were certainly meetings in which i was advised about the process being undertaken as to determine whether benghazi should be extended. so yes, i was aware of the
process that was ongoing. and i was kept up to date about it. >> and there were any -- >> the gentlelady's time has expi expired. >> way over. >> the chairman would now recognize the gentleman from washington. >> i want to clarify a couple of points. first of all, ambassador stevens had access to you. >> yes, he did. >> we were here -- i don't have the name in front of me, but ambassador in russia said that, you know, he always had access to you, always had constant communication with you, never had your e-mail address. i would hope that ambassadors would have more direct and immediate lines of communication and ambassador stevens certainly did, correct? >> yes. >> and also did ambassador stevens ever advocate either leaving lib yar o abandoning benghazi? >> to the contrary, congressman. he was a very strong advocate for staying in libya including
in benghazi. >> and i think what we've learned here is, well, nothing, frankly. we didn't know already. the security situation in libya was dangerous. >> right. >> without question. would you say that ambassador stevens was unaware of any aspect of that? >> no, i would not. i think he was very aware. >> so he knew the security situation in libya quite well? >> that's right. >> and yet again i want to be clear on this. in his communications with, and he had many, even if he didn't have your e-mail address, did he ever say, you know, did he raise the security issue directly with you? >> no, he did not. >> and on the day in question, obviously, he chose to go to benghazi. he, as you have described earlier, as, gosh, all across the world today, diplomats are weighing the risks and the benefits in a lot of dangerous places. and he had to do that. and he