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Benghazi review chief defends decision to not interview Clinton

The author of the internal State Department review on the Benghazi attack doubled-down Monday in defending his decision not to interview former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Retired U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering said his probe was aimed at finding out who made the decisions on Benghazi, Libya, and that Clinton was not involved.

“She was not involved in it, and therefore, there was no reason to question her on that line, and there were no other questions we had in mind,” Pickering said Monday on MSNBC.

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Pickering said testimony last week by three whistle-blowers who criticized the State Department’s response to the attack didn’t change anything.

“I don’t believe at this stage anything has changed by the testimony last week. In fact I think it’s been reinforced.”

Lawmakers have threatened to subpoena Clinton in the wake of revelations that talking points prepared for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice were edited to downplay any role terrorists played in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

GOP lawmakers have vowed to continue probing the attack, arguing that more could have been done to protect the Americans at the facility, and that the administration wasn’t truthful about the nature of the attack from the onset because it was more concerned with election-year politics. The current and former State Department officials testifying last week said they knew immediately that the attack was terrorism, even while talking points from the administration described the attack as a spontaneous protest.

The fact that those talking points were edited has further undermined the administration’s arguments.

Democrats argue the Republican push is mostly an effort to hurt Clinton, who is thought to be a leading contender for the White House in 2016.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) has said more whistle-blowers will testify, and House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants to take sworn depositions from the officials behind Pickering’s review.

Pickering said he’d be happy to give public testimony so that his words “can not only be recorded but can be seen,” but said no new revelations would emerge that might change the nature of his report. “I believe that on the basis of people we interviewed, over 100, and the pages of testimony and the video films that we saw, we did as a responsible a job as could be done under the circumstances,” he said. “It would not be right for me to say that nothing will ever turn up that will produce something different. What I will say is, from what I’ve heard and seen and what I’ve read since our report came out, I see nothing at this stage that would in any material way change the conclusions that I reached in that report.”



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