House Democrats have gone into full damage control mode over the just-released draft report from the Select Committee on Benghazi with the goal of circling the wagons around their presumptive presidential nominee and of fortifying the false narrative that the Benghazi attacks were provoked by a YouTube video.

And that’s precisely where Rep. Elijah Cummings and his flacks twist themselves into pretzels: because in order to protect Mrs. Clinton, they must also insist that the false narrative of the video was not false.

Except that it was.

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I will hand it to them. In their attempt to pre-empt the GOP majority report the day before its release, the Democrats showed great ingenuity. They seized every opportunity to twist statements from multiple witnesses to “prove” that the video was responsible for the Benghazi attacks. Why? Because Mrs. Clinton’s very first statement on the attacks, issued shortly after 10 PM on the night of September 11, 2012, said it was.

Mrs. Clinton showed them how to speak out of both sides of their mouths in her October 2015 testimony before the committee when Rep. Jim Jordan schooled her on her own emails (yes, the emails she deleted because they were just about yoga and weddings).

Just one hour after publicly blaming the attack on “inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Mrs. Clinton emailed her daughter, masquerading as “Diane Reynolds,” to tell her, “two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like [sic] group.”

The next day, Mrs. Clinton spoke with the Egyptian Prime Minister and shared the truth with him as well. “We know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack – not a protest.”

And yet, as the days wore on, the administration doubled-down on the YouTube video story, even though there was “no evidence that any of the (internal State Department or intelligence community) accounts blamed a video-inspired protest, or, in fact, any protest at all.”

So why the deception? And why continue to insist on it, as Mrs. Clinton does even today?

Committee Chairman Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyHouse GOP sets deposition deadline for Fusion GPS co-founder Collusion bombshell: DNC lawyers met with FBI on Russia allegations before surveillance warrant Comey rejects request for closed-door interview with House Republicans MORE has shied away from drawing the political conclusions, preferring to let the evidence speak for itself. But Reps. Jim Jordan and Mike Pompeo were more direct in their “additional views.”

Just 56 days before the presidential election, “events forced the administration to make a choice about what to tell the American people: Tell the truth that heavily armed terrorists had killed one American and possibly kidnapped a second— and increase the risk of losing the election. Say we do not know what happened. Or blame a video-inspired protest by tying Benghazi to what had occurred earlier in the day in Cairo. The administration chose the third, a statement with the least factual support but that would help the most politically,” they wrote.

The main GOP report also revealed that five of the ten action items decided during a two-hour secure video teleconference that evening among senior administration officials – including Secretary Clinton - involved how they would promote the YouTube video fiction, including an effort to get YouTube to “take down” the offensive video.

My jaw dropped when I read that: so Mrs. Clinton, who was the only named Cabinet official to attend the secure teleconference, believed it was equally important to orchestrate the lies the administration planned to tell the U.S. public as it was to organize a military response to the attack that in the end never happened?

In their shameless effort to dull the impact of that revelation, Committee Democrats sneeringly claimed that news of the secure video teleconference was “not news.”

But they overlooked one telling detail: the video mentioned in the action item was not the one the administration later spent so much time blaming for the attacks, but a folksy sermon about the differences between Islam and Christianity by an Oregon preacher known as “Pastor Jon.”

Why have you never heard of that video? Because it is completely irrelevant to what happened in Benghazi, or indeed, to any of the subsequent violent protests in the Middle East.

Yes, there were some 83 violent protests around the world by angry Muslims that took the lives of 47 people that occurred after the Benghazi attacks. And yes, all of them were explicitly tied to the YouTube video, “Innocence of Muslims.”

But those attacks occurred because – and only because – the administration promoted the YouTube video. Before their relentless efforts to focus attention on it, the YouTube channel where U.S. officials could find it (and leak it to journalists) had received just 405 views – and that was after the Benghazi attacks had begun.

This was a deception from start to finish, one Mrs. Clinton is continuing today.

Timmerman is a Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE supporter. He was the 2012 Republican Congressional nominee for MD-8 and is the author of Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary & Obama Blamed for Benghazi, forthcoming from Post Hill Press on July 19.