Benghazi hearing was a bipartisan bust, but not for Clinton
© Getty Images

The long-awaited questioning of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump takes aim at media after 'hereby' ordering US businesses out of China Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Taylor Swift says Trump is 'gaslighting the American public' MORE by the House Select Committee on Benghazi was a bipartisan bust — just not for Clinton herself.

ADVERTISEMENT

The former secretary of State was nothing short of masterful under 11 hours of grueling testimony during which her Republican interrogators sometimes yelled at her. Democrats misbehaved as well, each taking their time to lambast the Republican-led investigation as a nakedly political exercise that squandered nearly $5 million. The Republicans had a higher bar to meet, though, ever since their majority leader said on national television that the panel was created to drive down Clinton's approval numbers. Though that claim wasn't true, and was unfair to them and the work they have done — turning up not only new information but interviewing key players who had never been questioned — it was their burden to meet nonetheless.

They didn't meet it.

Almost every Republican member of the committee told Clinton their opinion, sometimes frequently. They sometimes interrupted to comment, conclude or chide her. Some of them were loud and some of them rude.

Clinton was the opposite: calm, patient, appropriately emotional, but always measured. Her goals were to run out the clock by doing three things: honoring the victims and their families' losses; defending the accountability review board; and defending high-risk expeditionary diplomacy and the risks diplomats like Ambassador Christopher Stevens accept knowingly. The committee caught her in a clear attempt to cover herself politically by clinging to the story of an inflammatory video in the hours and days to come following the attacks on Sept. 11, 2012. New notes and emails show that she told her daughter as well as the Egyptian prime minister that she knew the video had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. Clinton's response? She provided two contradicting answers, just not at the same time. More importantly, she never freaked out, which means Republicans got not one sound bite in 11 hours that could hurt her. With each and every answer, she appeared to be making a grocery list, unless discussing in dramatic and emotional tones the deaths of the four victims.

It's hard to imagine that the negative opinion Republican committee members have of her could come near to the contempt she feels for the Republicans who have pursued the investigation and are responsible for unearthing her secret, unsecured server where she mishandled classified information, now under investigation by the FBI. Yet she contained all of those feelings, and was the picture of discipline and composure.

It was a total rout.