National Security

Clinton aide Abedin appears at closed-door Benghazi hearing

Greg Nash

Longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin entered a closed-door meeting of the House Select Committee on Benghazi Friday morning, for what is likely to be a protracted interview session.

Abedin, wearing a black and white floral dress, declined to speak to a group of reporters assembled outside the basement meeting room while heading in on Friday.

{mosads}Ahead of the closed testimony, a GOP committee aide said that Abedin will be asked about “the events leading up to, during and after the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012 and executive branch activities and efforts to comply with congressional inquiries into them.”

The panel has not been tasked with asking other questions swirling around Abedin’s time at the State Department, the aide added, including an unusual work arrangement that allowed her to work part-time at the Clinton Foundation and a private consulting firm while also serving in the State Department.

Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) could be seen Friday heading into the committee room to meet with Abedin.

Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) is not attending, his office confirmed. 

“I came here today out of respect for Ms. Abedin,” Cummings told reporters during a brief intermission in the committee’s questioning.

The probe is “a taxpayer-funded effort to derail the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” he added.

Abedin had “no policy responsibilities [and] no operational responsibility,” as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Cummings said, and she “was not with Secretary Clinton on the night of this phenomenal tragedy.”

Clinton has described her longtime confidante as a “second daughter.” She began working with Clinton during her time as first lady, and was a nearly constant presence by her side during her stint at the State Department.

She is currently the vice chairwoman of Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Abedin’s appearance on Friday comes just days before Clinton will make her own public appearance in the Benghazi Committee, which is sure to be a spectacle on Capitol Hill covered heavily by news networks.

The job of Republican leaders of the Benghazi Committee was complicated in recent weeks, after remarks from multiple Republicans suggesting that the panel’s goal in part was to take down Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In response, the campaign and congressional Democrats have gone on the offense.

On Friday, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said it “remains unclear” why the committee is focused on Abedin, and called it “additional evidence that the actual attack in Benghazi, and its lessons about how we might better protect diplomats serving in dangerous places, are the last things on the committee’s mind.”

“The Republicans’ focus on her of all people, and their decision to leak details about her appearance, is just another tactic in their partisan plan to go after Hillary Clinton,” Merrill added.

— This story was last updated at 12:41 p.m. 

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