May 8th, 2013
07:44 PM ET
1 year ago

Congressman’s trip to Libya, call by top Clinton aide raised at Benghazi hearing

(CNN) - The most politically charged testimony of Wednesday’s House hearing on the deadly terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, energized Republican claims that there is more to the story.

An expectation ahead of the GOP-led hearing on the attack last September 11 centered on Republican efforts to more closely scrutinize actions of State Department officials serving under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton, a witness at previous Benghazi proceedings on Capitol Hill, did not factor much in Wednesday’s questioning. But Republicans brought her into focus through testimony about her top deputy.

Following the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, traveled to Libya as part of a congressional investigation.

Stevens’ deputy, who at the time of the Chaffetz visit was the top U.S. diplomat in Libya, told the committee that senior State Department attorneys told him and other officials that the lawmaker could not interview them.

“So the people at state told you, ‘Don’t talk to the guy who is coming to investigate?’” asked Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican.

“Yes, sir,” replied Gregory Hicks, adding that the request was highly unusual.

Hicks said he subsequently received a call from Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff.

Hicks said Mills was not happy a State Department lawyer was not permitted to attend a briefing that included Chaffetz.

Hicks, who testified as a “whistleblower” said the briefing was classified and the lawyer did not have the proper clearance.

She demanded a report on the visit, Hicks said, adding that a call from such a high-ranking official was often not good news and her tone conveyed unhappiness.

Hicks has been "praised by everybody who counts, the president, the secretary, everyone above him," Jordan said. "And yet now, they're obstructing - because he won't - he won't help them cover this up."

But Philippe Reines, Clinton’s former spokesman, responded strongly to the assertion and said in a statement that no one was told to prevent Chaffetz from speaking with anyone.

“That's completely at odds with the cooperative approach the department has taken with the Congress – all eight of the committees looking into this – from day one, until today,” he said.

He also said Mills at the time wanted the officials in Libya to know that the State Department in Washington supported them, including Clinton.

“Cheryl Mills did everything she could, round the clock for months on end, right up until our very last day in February, to support our personnel in Tripoli,” he said.

Critics have questioned the validity of continued congressional scrutiny of Benghazi, especially Democrats, who say Republicans are only interested in discrediting the administration and hurting Clinton's chances if she were to run for president in 2016.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Libya
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Alan

    I wouldn't say that Republicans are only interested in discrediting the administration, it includes Democrats also. This dysfunctional Congress spends invaluable tax payer dollars on meetings such as Bengazhi Gate, taking their eye off the ball which is more important to their constiuents, creating jobs, getting back the homes for consumers which were illegally foreclosed on, but yet the Attorney General's office is now collecting huge multi million dollar fines from the Banks, and not turning over those fines to the unfortunate families now living in the streets due to Wall Street greed and a Congress (Dodd-Frank and their minyon) who agreed to take off the post depression era controls which lead to the deceitful mortgages.

    So as long as yellow journalism organizations like CNN focus in on waste, fraud and abuse of tax payer dollars by advertising meetings like this, and not on the american public's needs and desires, America will continue to decline in the important eyes of the world passing us by.

    May 8, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  2. Data Driven

    Not good enough to stop Clinton if she runs in 2016, wingers! Do keep trying, though! Oh, do!

    May 8, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  3. Donna

    Gross incompetence followed by the death of 4 Americans and then stonewalling, deceit, lies, intimidation, threats, nahhhhh no cover up at all! Democrats just consider the lives of these 4 people to be the price of protecting Obama and Clinton's political career. I hope all of the diplomatic corp as well as the military take note that they may be called at any time to do the same. Truly pathetic.

    May 8, 2013 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  4. Name willard

    No no vote support for hillary clinton
    2016

    May 8, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  5. 4 trillion

    Bald, cheeks that will store a winters supply of nuts, and anger and selfishness in their eyes....proto-typical GOP partisans telling a story that we no longer need to hear.......a tragedy occurred and the GOP is trying, with all of their collective hearts to tell Americans just how important it is whether or not the Benghazi attack was pre-planned or spontaneousl Clueless, classless and seemingly unaware of the pulse of the U.S.

    May 8, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. ladeeda

    "“So the people at state told you, ‘Don’t talk to the guy who is coming to investigate?’ asked Rep. Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican.""

    Later in the testimony, Hicks admits he was told to not talk to the guy 'alone." He at first claims that he was told not to talk at all but later admits when confronted with earlier testimony that he was simply told not to talk to him alone. Which makes sense you want witnesses as to what was said.

    May 8, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  7. Scott Downer

    Peace is when we invite people to eat & share our Patriotism. Terrorism is when they break into our Liberty & Freedom . How can Anyone send their own to Fight and bring diplomacy and Liberty to others if our own country won't defend its soldiers ? For words of peace you must have truth and commitment . The power of leadership is not with who has the biggest weapon But who can Rule with a voice of Freedom with only his words and Heart. W/o Heart and Patriotism Nations will fight for their Heritage . You can not destroy their monuments or their temples or their religion . But You will bring hate and death back to your Freedom doing so . Impeach Obama his blood is tainted with the souls of American Soldiers .

    May 8, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  8. Jinx9to88

    “Cheryl Mills did everything she could, round the clock for months on end, right up until our very last day in February, to support our personnel in Tripoli,”. Was this before or after the GOP cut the budget for additional security to embassy's? GOP hows the job creation going? or did u give upon that and need something else to do? GOP, American soldiers die every day in the wars your Admin started and I dont see this much attention.

    May 8, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  9. Roger

    I do want answers to what happened there and lets fix it if it is broken. The same holds true for the investigation of the Boston Bomber that went out of the US and back without being looked at better.

    I want some one in the news to question John McCain about something that seems no one else has brought up. I saw an interview of him on this matter with I think Dana Bash, you can look up to see if it was her or some one else but it was on TV. He stated that he personally spoke with Chris Stevens in June and at that time Chris told him of his requests for additional security and that it got turned down.
    What did John McCain do about this? He states that Chris is a very good friend and was frustrated about the security there.
    John McCain could have done something right there. He is a US Senator, senior ranking i might add, almost as powerful as the President. He could have called the President or introduced an emergency bill to get the security that Chris requested.
    Me thinks the Senator protests too much! in light of what he did not do for his friend!

    May 8, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  10. Catmandew

    Boy this sure has turned into a mess. I am not sure if there was a cover up but something doesn't seem quite right in the whole deal. I know the administration has a reputation of backroom deals so it deserves the scrutiny. Obama likes to cover things up he has demonstrated that all along thru his term so he deserves the scrutiny!

    May 8, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  11. A

    Why is this not front page news??? Why are we looking at pictures of crazy Arias and half naked teachers, yet this disgusting White House cover up is no where to be found on CNN unless you dig for it.

    May 8, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  12. Justjean

    It doesn't ring true that if the administration wanted to avoid talk of any terror attacks on the President's watch that they would stand in the way of increased security. It makes much more sense that something precluded availability of help to send...OR that what was going down was not conveyed with the urgency required or the message was somehow lost. There is no way this administration or ANY administration would have wanted this to happen.

    May 8, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  13. PJ

    As tragic as this incident is, and as painful as it is to lose any American, this is disgusting at its best, and
    obnoxious at its worst.
    Republicans, in their effort to dimnish the President, and Secretary Clinton, are also attacking the
    special forces, the Commanders, the Embassy workers, and all who put their lives on the line to work
    in the most dangerous parts of the World.
    Issa is a pig, (apologies to pigs), Lindsay Graham is desperate, and Huckabee is worthless.
    If you don't know what they said, google it.
    We have hungry children, homeless people, desperate Americans that need attention. But this group
    of lackers would rather spend money on a witch hunt, rather than care for the needs of the people
    they represent.
    They contradict General Pickering, but don't allow him to speak at this stupid "hearing".
    If this is the best they can do, I suggest they take another vacation and don't come back!
    Never in my lifetime have I seen a more disgusting display of lack of respect for the very
    job we pay them to do.
    It is a privilege to serve America, not a ticket to destroy it!

    May 8, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  14. king

    these repubs and their witch hunt will fall on def ears. they're so bipartisan in their attack on clinton and the president, that they dont have any intention of not making the same mistake again, they are as much at fault as the state department, since they're the one with the nations purse. if congress doesn't fund it, it will be unsafe. so its up to the repubs congress shut up or put up, or are they willing to go round 2 by not fully funding our state department. i wonder who they will blame next time stuff goes wrong because of underfunding.

    May 8, 2013 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. labman57

    The suggestion that Benghazi will be "Obama's Watergate" - implying that a massive conspiracy was undertaken to prevent Congress and the media from discovering that the tragic events were the result of allegedly illegal and/or unethical conduct - is yet another example of a preconceived conclusion desperately in search of an evidence-based rationalization.

    May 8, 2013 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  16. Anthony in California

    Yawn.
    All i have is one date for these witch-hunting Republicans.. 09-11-2001

    Cant wait to cast my Clinton Vote in 2016.

    May 8, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  17. Idalula

    How much more of our tax payer dollars will the GOP waste flogging this dead and autopsied carcass? Enough with these endless hearings. Where were these super patriots when multiple bombings and deaths happened under Reagan's watch? Where were these super patriots after 9/11, when ample evidence pointed to Bush and his cronies ignoring intel about the attacks? Stop with this endless finger pointing and do something positive for the majority of us who are sick of this endless negative bickering.

    May 8, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  18. J.V.Hodgson

    I wish republicans would put as much time and effort into dealing with Budgets and deficits thereof and consequently debt reduction.
    We might all be better off.Rioters in Libya at the time had guns as well ( almost everyone had one to overthrow Qadaffi) what happened was that escalated quickly and terrorist took advantage and moved in as well. The problem started with a reduction in state department budgets for security personnel.
    Mr (P) issa should do it oops sorry Mr D Issa and also stop this useless dissaing around.
    Regards
    Hodgson
    Ps sorry for my poor typos!! LOL.

    May 9, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  19. Thomas

    These two guys are paper punchers , they have been around the block , looks more like they are covering them selves from looking stupid .

    Did anybody learn anything new other then BIG bureaucracies can make Big mistakes ?

    May 9, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  20. vince soto

    honesty is above all. we all knew it was a terrorist attack. after all it was sept. 11th. winning an election was not worth it. dealing with the truth might have made u heros. and now hillary uv been sucked in too. very sad state of affairs in america.

    May 9, 2013 04:18 am at 4:18 am |
  21. wmontanye

    Can you say witch hut?

    May 9, 2013 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  22. Marie MD

    Folks, lets get down to the basics. This is NOT about Benghazi or the deaths of our Ambassador and others. This is about how to make Hillary Clinton look bad for 2016, if she were to run and they can use information which continues not to stick to her against her.
    Where were these fools after 9/11 when we know that the shrub's administration knew about terrorists wanting to fly planes into buildings? What about the Iraq was with the ghost WMDs?
    These repug-nants stick together like pond scum. Having a convicted car thief on an oversight committee is downright a criminal act in itself.

    May 9, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  23. Guest

    Theres a surprise, the dirt bag liberals trying to take your eyes off the ball again, the big one they dropped and lied about.

    May 9, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  24. bassman

    How is it Republicans are only in this to to hurt Hillary Clinton, when we now know he received an angry phone call from Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills? The Republicans and Mr. Hicks did not make that up.

    May 9, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  25. GI Joe

    Its nothing more than a witch-hunt. Plain and simple. I can shoot holes in the "evidence" from two of the three without even looking anything up. You folks would be wise to reconsider the voices and accusations you hear.

    May 9, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
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