January 17th, 2014
09:25 AM ET
9 months ago

Adviser defends Clinton amid Benghazi criticism

(CNN) – A top adviser and longtime confidant to Hillary Clinton is defending the former Secretary of State against renewed attacks from Republicans over her leadership during the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

Philippe Reines said on CNN's "New Day" on Friday that Clinton will stay out of the Benghazi debate as long as it has political undertones.

"It's very, even sitting here, very difficult to shift to talking about people losing their lives and the politics of 2016," Reines said. "For as much as people want to make the two the same and to use one in that context, we don't see it that way."

"I know that sounds canned," he continued. "But we just don't, and we're not going to help those who want to."

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a new report endorsed by most members this week saying the attack, which killed four Americans, was "likely preventable," and it partly blamed the State Department for security lapses.

Democrats have claimed that Republicans are using the tragedy to undercut Clinton, who is viewed as a formidable potential presidential candidate in 2016.

But Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham used the report to pressure the Obama administration to take action and hold people accountable, including Clinton, for security shortcomings.

GOP turns new fire on Clinton after Benghazi report

"She has a lot of accomplishments. She's a very accomplished woman. But, under her leadership, the consulate became a death trap," Graham, who doesn't sit on the Intelligence panel, told CNN.

McCain said that "the American people hold all of us accountable who are in responsibility. She should be held accountable."

State Department won't fire employees over Benghazi

Asked if he agrees with the Senate's finding that the attack was "likely preventable," Reines said: "I don't know what that means."

He raised other Benghazi reports, including an independent analysis ordered by the State Department and led by former Ambassador Thomas Pickering and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

State Department upheaval follows Benghazi report

"They didn't pull any punches," Reines added. "They came up with 29 recommendations of things that should be done differently. Secretary Clinton, at the time, accepted all 29 immediately and pledged to not leave office until all 29 were on their way to being implemented."

Reines reiterated it's more productive to figure out what happened and how to prevent it again. "Not to continue to harp on the political benefits of looking at what was said by who at what time."

Clinton insiders say the former Secretary of State will address Benghazi in her upcoming book. Asked how much she'll delve into the issue, Reines said "you don't have to wait for the book" to find out.

"Secretary Clinton has appeared many times in the last, I guess, 14, 15 months, including seven hours in front of both sides of Congress to answer every single question that they've had," he said. "So in terms of what she did, how she did it, she's been very vocal about that. She is proud of what she has done to - to handle and to improve and to try to prevent that."

– CNN's Elise Labott, Matt Smith and Paul Courson contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    But Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham used the report to pressure the Obama administration to take action and hold people accountable, including Clinton, for security shortcomings.
    ----------------------------–
    Fine, let's hold people accountable. Let's start with John McCain and his secret visit to Benghazi during the initial stages of the Libyan Arab Spring. MCain had broadcast live from there, criticizing the administration for not sending weapons and troops, in support of the rebels. How many friends and promises did McCain make that Amb. Stevens wasn't able to keep?

    January 17, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.

    Ryan, Issa and other House Republicans voted for an amendment in 2009 to cut $1.2 billion from State operations, including funds for 300 more diplomatic security positions. Under Ryan’s budget, non-defense discretionary spending, which includes State Department funding, would be slashed nearly 20 percent in 2014, which would translate to more than $400 million in additional cuts to embassy security. – Mother Jones

    January 17, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  3. RIchard Long

    Thankfully we have not been subjected to a length trial of the Benghazi attackers... as they have yet to be caught.
    However, the film-maker of the YouTube move was promptly captured and tossed in jail.

    Americans died, but Hillary was able to cover enough to allow Obama to attend his Las Vegas campaign trip.
    It was after all just a "spontaneous group of protestors upset with the YouTube movie..."

    January 17, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    OK, CNN. I'll bite. Should she be the Democratic nominee, and the Republican party continue to nominate the unelectable;
    hint: TeaParty panderes (Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz) I will most definitely vote for Clinton.

    I also suspect that folks won't be concerning themselves with Benghazi anymore than they concerned themselves with the embassy bombings which occurred in the Reagan administration, the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration.

    January 17, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  5. Tampa Tim

    The pretty people at Fox have really made hay out of a non troversy . The republicans cut security finding, and then blame Obama and Clinton, for what they did. Pooh flinging is all the GOP has.

    January 17, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  6. Anonymous

    I'm all for accountability. Let's start with Issa. Why won't he allow Pickering and Mullen to testify, publicly, before
    his "committee"? Why did he lie by asserting that they "refused" to testify, when a letter sent to him offering this
    was made public?
    Why does Issa selectively leak confidential information that some see as treasonous?
    Political? You betcha!
    Can Issa investigate himself??

    January 17, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. jpmichigan

    The mainstream media (MSNBC, CNN, ABC NBC) can hide the results of the investigation, but the SENATE Democrats stated the State Dept. under Clinton was at fault. My suggestion would be for Mrs. Clinton to come out and tell the truth. If the White House is to blame for HER inaction so be it. This is one Democrat I as a independent would vote for.

    January 17, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. Malory Archer

    RIchard Long

    Thankfully we have not been subjected to a length trial of the Benghazi attackers... as they have yet to be caught.
    However, the film-maker of the YouTube move was promptly captured and tossed in jail.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    According to the Wall Street Journal (hardly a liberal, pro-Obama bastion), he was arrested for eight violations of the terms of his probation for a 2010 bank-fraud conviction.

    Under his probation, Mr. Nakoula is banned from using computers and the Internet without supervision.

    LOL – doing something he's not supposed to do and leaving evidence on Youtube also qualifies him for the top spot on the list of America's dumbest criminals!

    January 17, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  9. smith

    Clinton has got her scandal and Christie has his. Welcome to politics boys and girls, these two scandals are all were going to hear about til 2016.

    January 17, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  10. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Issa, the # number one GOP stooge and lier and thief should be kicked put of congress in November so that he can spend his 460 million,GOP bum, money gets you the same respect it got the crook Romney .

    January 17, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  11. FedUp

    Clinton couldn't handle that crisis but people think she is capable of leading a country that is already in serious trouble!She is dishonest,lied to Congress and took part in a cover up!Have Americans brains all turned to mush?Finally the truth is coming out about Obamas lies to get elected and after,now you want to elect another that will most likely be worse than him!Hate to say it but people that voted for them are getting exactly what they deserve just a shame they are taking the entire country down with them!Will people never learn?

    January 17, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  12. Malory Archer

    Regarding the claims that the diplomatic facilities in Lybia should have been shut down due to terrorist attacks in the area; we should also close down facilities in a great many other locations for the same reason – BEFORE something happens. There should be no double standards in the matter.

    January 17, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  13. current state of the union

    The real investigation should be on Issa, for the way he conducted this, he is obviously not looking for the truth, and that's what sickens me, I seen a lady on fox, she was ssssooooo concerned for the families, her being there and saying that is 100% political, she could care less. Why is the outrage expressed by the gop limited to deaths under Obama, there are 1000 times as many dead from their war, does that make sense? Of course not, nothing they do coincides with what they say

    January 17, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. rs

    The Republicans need drop this Benghazi nonsense. They have spent $60 million on "investigations"; falsified e-mails and selectively edited transcripts and reports to perpetuate their fantasy "conspiracy"; demanded non-existant reports; lied like rugs, and still have zero evidence that anything beyond the tragic events that occured- and they cannot even get the timelines, or the distances or essential facts straight. They certainly have zero information to implicate Clinton, much less the President (and we certainly know what they would if they had).

    Their latest "revelation" is that steps could have been taken that *might* have prevented the deaths of 4 CIA operatives.

    Wow.

    Evidence shows the Kobar Towers event could have been prevented. That every single attack on 61 State Dept. employees killed in attacks during the Bush Admin. could have been prevented. 9/11 could have been prevented. The incidents in "Blachawk down" could have been prevented. On and on. For warmongers, the GOP has no stomach for death.

    Just spin, and delusion. That is all they are good for.

    January 17, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  15. Malory Archer

    jpmichigan

    The mainstream media (MSNBC, CNN, ABC NBC) can hide the results of the investigation, but the SENATE Democrats stated the State Dept. under Clinton was at fault.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The Senate report also faulted the FBI, CIA and several other agencies, but don't let facts stand in the way of your partisan hackery.

    January 17, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. rs

    RIchard Long

    Thankfully we have not been subjected to a length trial of the Benghazi attackers... as they have yet to be caught.
    However, the film-maker of the YouTube move was promptly captured and tossed in jail.

    Americans died, but Hillary was able to cover enough to allow Obama to attend his Las Vegas campaign trip.
    It was after all just a "spontaneous group of protestors upset with the YouTube movie..."
    _______________________
    Remind me again Richard, what our nation's legal standing is in a nation undergoing civil war. Just what legal power do we have in Libya?

    January 17, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. rs

    jpmichigan

    The mainstream media (MSNBC, CNN, ABC NBC) can hide the results of the investigation, but the SENATE Democrats stated the State Dept. under Clinton was at fault.
    _______________________
    Not so fast. They said based on the post-Benghazi review of the facts, it is now clear that the deaths or aattack might have been prevented. That is a very different claim than yours- and it includes the need to the treasonous GOP to have returned the cut security funds back to the State Department- which of course, didn't happen.

    January 17, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. carlos

    Anything to avoid discussing issues...politics as usual.

    January 17, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  19. rs

    smith

    Clinton has got her scandal and Christie has his. Welcome to politics boys and girls, these two scandals are all were going to hear about til 2016.
    __________________
    No Smith, the difference is there are crimes, a cover-up and evidence in the Bridge scandal. Stuff completely lacking in the Benghazi "scandal".

    January 17, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  20. Pete

    It's hilarious how for some time I stated facts about Benghazi,Stevens that most ignorent,radical republicans refused to take into consideration but that's their problem not seeing beyond their hate of anything democratic or accepting anything,anyone different in color from theirs..Just remember republicans,teabaggers more were lost in terrorists incidents on embassies in Reagans,Bushs terms than 4 that died in Benghazi so quit throwing stones at glass houses went you yourself is standing in one!!

    January 17, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Reines said. "For as much as people want to make the two the same and to use one in that context, we don't see it that way."

    "I know that sounds canned," he continued. "But we just don't, and we're not going to help those who want to."
    -------------------------------------------------
    He is correct of course. They are trying to treat this as apples to apples, and it is not.
    I also like the fact that Hillary's camp is setting the tone as to how they are going to roll and what they will put up with and what will be relegated to the realm of a non-equivalent nontroversy.
    Proactive. Well done.

    January 17, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. Malory Archer

    Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Hey Obama – repeal the patriot act and you'll get my support.
    He could have done it in the forst 2 years of his first term.
    ----––
    Somehow I don't think that would have been very well received by the war hawks on the right. Remember, Bin Laden was still posting videos threatening to attack and destroy America.
    ---
    Since when did Obama care about anything ANYONE on the right wanted or didn't want? He had the opportunity and the votes to get it done and he didn't.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Boehner got "98% of what he wanted" from President Obama, and President Obama's record of overwhelmingly siding with the right over the wises of his supporters gives lie to your claim.

    January 17, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Typo "She's correct...". Pardon.

    January 17, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  24. Lizzie

    rs, COVER UP, do you know more about it, have been been involved???? But when people die you call it a SCANDAL?

    January 17, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  25. Fair is Fair

    Malory Archer

    jpmichigan

    The mainstream media (MSNBC, CNN, ABC NBC) can hide the results of the investigation, but the SENATE Democrats stated the State Dept. under Clinton was at fault.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    The Senate report also faulted the FBI, CIA and several other agencies, but don't let facts stand in the way of your partisan hackery.
    ----------
    Correct. And NONE have been held accountable.

    January 17, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
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