Clinton to testify on Benghazi attack

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify about the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) announced Thursday.

“I have spoken to Secretary Clinton's counselor and chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and the secretary has committed to testifying before our Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations on the Accountability Review Board's report, which is expected to be concluded by early to mid-December,” Ros-Lehtinen said in her prepared opening remarks.

The announcement that Clinton would publicly testify for the first time came during the Foreign Affairs panel's first public hearing on the issue. An earlier hearing scheduled shortly after the Sept. 11 attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans was canceled after Clinton opted instead to appear at closed briefings with intelligence and defense officials.

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Thursday's hearing did not include anyone from the State Department — Clinton, who was invited, is traveling in Asia — or anyone else from the administration. The hearing quickly descended into a shouting match between Republicans and Democrats over which side was playing politics with the attack.

“The coordinated, preplanned and brazen attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11th was an outrage,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Also disgraceful is the sad parade of conflicting accounts of the attack that we have received from administration officials in the weeks and months since.”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), the chairman of the panel's Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, took offense with President Obama for standing by his ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, who publicly linked the attack to a protest over an anti-Islam video five days after the attack. Obama said Wednesday Rice was simply repeating the early intelligence she'd been given and vowed to nominate her for secretary of State over Republicans' objections if he determines she's the best candidate for the job.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who is the odds-on favorite to become the top Democrat on the panel, accused Republicans of playing politics with Benghazi. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) countered that it's Democrats who are playing politics by questioning Republicans' intentions for their criticism.