Team Hillary assails ‘brazen deceit’ of latest GOP Benghazi claims

A spokesman for Hillary Clinton fired back Friday at what it called the “brazen deceit” of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who earlier in the day said the former secretary of State shouted at lawmakers and deliberately lied to them in a private meeting about last year's deadly strike on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

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Nick Merrill, a Clinton aide, provided the following statement to The Hill on the condition that it be run in its entirety.

“Here are the facts: on September 20th, 2012, nine days after the attack - not two as he falsely stated - Secretary Clinton was part of two large briefings held for the benefit of all 535 Members of Congress. Hundreds of House members were present for their session, and more than 90 Senators attended theirs. On January 23rd, 2013, she testified publicly before both the Senate and House. Those are the only two times Adam Kinzinger would have been within a mile of her.

"So we are to believe that he woke up today, 10 months and 27 days later, and suddenly remembered he heard something that 434 other people somehow missed? Not so much. What happened this morning was nothing short of brazen deceit.”

The rare response from Team Clinton could indicate the potential 2016 Democratic presidential nominee is fed up with Republican attempts to keep the Benghazi controversy in the news.

Earlier on Friday, Kinzinger said in an interview on "Fox and Friends" that he and other members of Congress had a private meeting with Clinton about the Benghazi attack, and that the she became agitated when someone suggested it might have been a terrorist attack.

“Basically, in a very loud angry voice she says, ‘it’s irresponsible to even suggest this is a terrorist attack, this is a YouTube video, we know that there are protests all over and we need to be very careful about how we say this,’ and basically chided this member of Congress,” Kinzinger said.

“I actually sat there in that meeting and said, 'well the secretary believes this is a YouTube video because of how passionately she’s arguing that,'” he continued. “But now we found out … that they knew this whole time that it was a terrorist attack, including when it was happening.”

Kinzinger wouldn’t reveal the name of the lawmaker that he says provoked Clinton’s ire, saying the member could come out on their own if they wanted to.

“I don’t care about the yelling so much – and she yelled,” Kinzinger said. “I care more about the fact that a member of Congress who has a right to know this and ask these questions was chided for asking about what we eventually found out was the truth.”

Former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on Sunday news shows following the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks, and said intelligence indicated they were a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Islam video circulating on the Internet. The administration later admitted Rice’s claim was wrong and labeled the event an act of terror.

The State Department has since said the agency was concerned that the preliminary talking points went too far in assigning blame for the attack and would have been inconsistent with what the White House had said at that early stage.

On Friday, Fox News anchor Brian Kilmeade asked Kinzinger if he believed Clinton deliberately lied in the meeting.

“Absolutely,” he said. “If you look at the emails that were exchanged during the attack, they knew what was going on.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent a letter to the State Department demanding more information about the talking points the Obama administration used.

Issa says emails he obtained through a subpoena indicate that State Department leadership signed off on talking points that said the attack was due to a spontaneous protest, even though they were aware of a potential terrorist threat in the region at the time of the attack.