Chaffetz: No excuse for sparing Clinton in Benghazi attack audit

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said that an independent audit of last year’s Benghazi attack should have interviewed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, even though the previous 11 similar probes did not talk with the acting secretary.

Benghazi is different, Chaffetz said.

Chaffetz’s comments pushed back against a State Department inspector general report released this week that found no evidence of bias in last year’s audit, contradicting Republican allegations that it was set up to protect Clinton.

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee have criticized the Accountability Review Board’s (ARB) investigation of the State Department’s handling of Benghazi for not interviewing Clinton, and they charge that the board was stacked with Clinton allies.

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The inspector general report, however, said the process operated “independently and without bias." The report reviewed all 12 Accountability Review Boards convened from 1998 to 2012 and found the acting secretary of State was never interviewed.

Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight National Security subcommittee, told reporters Thursday that the previous audits do not excuse the Benghazi review’s decision not to speak with Clinton.

“She claimed full responsibility, she was making calls that night into Libya — of course she was involved,” Chaffetz said. “If you’re going to get a full picture you should talk to everybody that was involved.”

Chaffetz argued that the Benghazi attack was a different scenario than previous attacks that were audited because Benghazi was a multi-part assault that occurred over the course of many hours.

“That is different than one quick bombing,” he said. “When you have the secretary of State personally involved and engaged that night, then I think it’s appropriate to find out what she did and how she dealt with it.”

The heads of the ARB review, retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, testified before Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) Oversight panel last week.

Democrats charge that Republicans’ Benghazi investigation is politically motivated to go after Clinton ahead of a potential 2016 presidential run.