The outstanding members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi during Hillary Clinton’s testimony were Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Jim Jordan (R-OH). Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) earns honorable mention.
While the hearings were far from perfect, they uncovered critical new information (despite media spin otherwise). Here are the reasons each of the members mentioned above deserves to be commended.
Westmoreland combined a calm and gentlemanly manner with razor-sharp questions. He established that Chris Stevens did not have Clinton’s e-mail address, though Sid Blumenthal did–a contrast that shocked even left-wing observers. Crucially, he structured his questions so that only a yes-or-no answer, or a very specific one, would be a logical response (“Did he have your personal e-mail?””Did you tell them you had a private server at that time?”).
Brooks, like Westmoreland, used patience and specific questions to get results, the most important of which was an admission by Clinton that she did not follow the law in setting up the consulate in Benghazi. Brooks also provoked Clinton’s most embarrassing, and bizarre, statement–that she thought Stevens was joking in an email requesting security. She also used props well, comparing a large stack of emails in 2011 to a short (redacted?) one in 2012.
Jordan produced the most damning evidence of the entire hearings–namely, Clinton’s private emails to Egypt’s prime minister and to her daughter Chelsea indicating that she knew from the very earliest stage that the attack on the Benghazi compound had been a terror attack and not a demonstration about a YouTube video. His strident demeanor was a potential liability, but given the strength of the evidence he had, it added weight to his arguments.
Gowdy kept his composure under ferocious attack from the Democrats, who sought to put him on trial throughout the proceedings. He also devastated Clinton’s claims that previous investigations had been enough by forcing her to admit she had failed to turn over all of her emails. Two mistakes: Gowdy should have put the best arguments first, not late in proceedings; and he ought to have prepared a closing statement summarizing the new findings of the day.
Dishonorable mention goes to the Democrats, every single one of which tried to disrupt and delegitimize the committee. Few bothered to ask Clinton a serious question about Benghazi. Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard thinks Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) was an exception. She is certainly more knowledgeable than her colleagues–she was maimed in combat in Iraq–but still ran interference for Clinton, who has backed her in a 2016 Senate primary.