ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos asked Hillary Clinton about the long-standing claims by families of the Benghazi dead that she peddled the administration’s phony “video protest” narrative to their faces, at the memorial ceremony for their loved ones.
At long last, Hillary Clinton was forced to call the Benghazi families liars on national television:
Let the conspiracy theories commence about this interview: Clinton’s campaign wanted to get this over with on a weekend, when attention was focused elsewhere. They think she is permanently inoculated against Benghazi criticism after her testimony before the Select Committee. And they believe this news is so old and buried that no amount of media voodoo can cause it to rise from the grave.
After mentioning the doubts about Clinton’s honesty that haunt her poll numbers, Stephanopoulos brought up the emails she wrote to insiders—including the Egyptian prime minister and her daughter Chelsea—which unambiguously described the truth President Barack Obama worked so hard to conceal for a few crucial news cycles: The Benghazi attack was no “spontaneous protest” against an “offensive” YouTube video, but a planned terrorist attack.
Nevertheless, multiple family members of the Americans who died in Benghazi have resolutely insisted, since 2012, that Clinton approached them at the memorial ceremony and lied to them about a video protest, even vowing to go after the filmmaker, a dodgy character who did indeed end up in jail.
Stephanopoulos could have used considerably more damaging quotes from the family members to make his case—he went with brief, recent clips instead of their contemporaneous accounts—and he mangled the wording of the question to “Did you tell them it was not the film?” but the question thudded onto the table nonetheless.
The response was a characteristically Clintonian word salad that will do nothing to reassure anyone still capable of asking serious questions about her honesty and competence, but she did kick it off by flatly calling the Benghazi families liars:
You know, look, I understand the continuing grief at the loss that parents experienced with the loss of these four brave Americans. And I did testify, as you know, for 11 hours. And I answered all of these questions.
Now, I can’t—I can’t help it the people think there has to be something else there. I said very clearly there had been a terrorist group that had taken responsibility on Facebook between the time that I—you know, when I talked to my daughter, that was the latest information. We were giving it credibility. And then we learned the next day it wasn’t true. In fact, they retracted it.
This was a fast moving series of events in the fog of war. And I think most Americans understand.
Clinton’s statements to the Egyptian leader and Chelsea were based on a lot more than a Facebook posting from some “al-Qaeda-like group.” As anyone who actually paid attention to those Benghazi hearings knows, there was a huge pile of evidence for a terror attack, including everything American personnel on the ground were saying, and absolutely none for a “video protest” gone awry.
The Benghazi families were not affected by any “fog of war” or confused by “fast-moving events.” They were at a memorial ceremony for their fallen sons, husbands, and brothers. They have been telling the story about Clinton and the video protest lie since shortly after that ceremony took place.
Susan Rice’s legendary Sunday-show marathon to spread the “video protest” lie happened immediately after Clinton spoke to the Benghazi families. Clinton had every reason to lie to the families and a long history of being a much clumsier liar than her equally dishonest but far more polished husband. It is extremely plausible that the exchange the families have attested to occurred.
Had Clinton told the families that Benghazi was an act of terror, only to be upstaged by Rice on every news roundtable in America that Sunday, the families would have been livid. They would have talked to the media and demanded Hillary Clinton stand up to Susan Rice and defend the same truth she gave them.
It would have burned the Obama 2012 campaign to the ground. The American people would have seen Obama’s Secretary of State calling him out as a liar. We know from the emails President Obama hid for years that his political team was terrified of Mitt Romney using Benghazi effectively against him. Imagine what he would have done with a vicious war of words between President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the portrait of a confused administration in free fall that would have been created.
That is what the president most wanted to avoid—the same sense Americans are currently getting about a disconnected, inept president who values politics above all else, has no idea what he is doing in foreign policy, and does not understand the threats we face.
It is so very Hillary that she finished up her answer on the honesty question by saying the people who work for her think she’s super-honest, and then giving us a glimpse into a weird mirror universe where some alternate version of Hillary Clinton did stand up and fight for the truth:
Well, you know, obviously I don’t like hearing that, George. But I think people who have worked with me, people who voted for me twice in New York, people who I’ve had a very long relationship with and working on their behalf are going to know what I do and when I say I will do it I will move everything I can to get it done.
And I believe the American people who are looking for somebody who is a fighter, who will stand up there, just as I did, tell you what I will do, tell you I will do everything to make it happen. And I think my values have been consistent over the years. And the results that I’ve gotten are ones that I’m going to take to the American public.
There is absolutely no way to spin the simple, documented fact that Hillary Clinton privately told the truth about Benghazi to some close contacts, while her administration peddled a fairy tale for days afterward. She did not “stand up there” and do anything noble, even if she is right that all of the Benghazi families are vicious liars willing to besmirch the memory of their loved ones to slander her.