January 17th, 2014
09:25 AM ET
11 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. Tampa Tim

    Fair – Obama had 58 dems and 2 independents in the senate until September of 2009. In September of 2009, the GOP got their 41 senator and government ground to a halt. Being from MA, I thought you would know that.

    January 17, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. rs

    Lizzie

    rs, COVER UP, do you know more about it, have been been involved???? But when people die you call it a SCANDAL?
    ________________________
    Afraid I don't understand your question.

    January 17, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Just because the report concludes that the deaths may have been preventable, that does not mean that Mrs. Clinton is the person who should have, or could have, prevented it. I think they were talking about the risks taken by Amb. Stevens in relying upon locals at the Annex for additional security, instead of the U.S. military. The host country is ultimately responsible for the safety of visiting ambassadors, anyway. I think the last thing that Stevens wanted was a significant contingent of U.S. boots on the ground, making themselves look like a target to get sucked into the violence.

    January 17, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    Why do Fox viewers think they know more than the CIA, the FBI. The White House, congress, and the defense department? They are sure accept a lot of garbage without proof.

    January 17, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Correct. And NONE have been held accountable.
    -----------------------------–
    The Congress has held no one accountable for embassy attacks and deaths during the Bush years. So, what's the bid deal? Why should they suddenly start doing so now? The Bush administration suffered multiple deadly attacks at the same locations, and Republicans didn't form a committee to investigate the repeat attacks.

    Why do it now? Simple minded politics, that's why.

    January 17, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  6. Dean

    I didn't realize that the Senate Intelligence Committee was comprised wholly of Fox viewers.

    January 17, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Tampa Tim

    Fair – Obama had 58 dems and 2 independents in the senate until September of 2009. In September of 2009, the GOP got their 41 senator and government ground to a halt. Being from MA, I thought you would know that.
    -----------------------–
    I think Fair missed the boat on this one. The Patriot act was set to expire. A vote was taken to extend it, so I don't know what she's talking about saying Obama had the votes to repeal it. Fair seems to think that Democrats function like Republicans. Anything that the fearless leader puts forth, then the drones must automatically vote for it or face being expelled from the party. It might work that way on the right, but not on the left.

    January 17, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  8. Tampa Tim

    13 embassy attacks, 50 deaths, no problem for the right wingnuts under the previous president. It seems that Faux outrage is so easy to turn on and off, if you are a bagger.

    January 17, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  9. t

    ....so now we hear the Ambassador .TURNED DOWN.. the offer for a bunch of Special Forces to be stationed at the Embassy.
    ......Come ON, ...GOP.............Your FACADE of caring about those that died is falling apart.

    January 17, 2014 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Tampa Tim

    Fair – Obama had 58 dems and 2 independents in the senate until September of 2009. In September of 2009, the GOP got their 41 senator and government ground to a halt. Being from MA, I thought you would know that.
    -------–
    First – the 2 "independents" caucused with the democrats (Sanders & Liebermann).

    Second – Scott Brown was not seated until February, 2010. Prior to that (and after some pretty sleazy shenanigans in the MA legislature), Democrat Paul Kirk was appointed by Democrat Deval Patrick to fill Kennedy's seat until the special election could take place.

    You're NOT from MA and you obviously DIDN'T know that.

    Obama had the 60 votes he needed. He punted.

    January 17, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Tampa Tim

    Fair – Obama had 58 dems and 2 independents in the senate until September of 2009. In September of 2009, the GOP got their 41 senator and government ground to a halt. Being from MA, I thought you would know that.
    -------––
    I think Fair missed the boat on this one. The Patriot act was set to expire. A vote was taken to extend it, so I don't know what she's talking about saying Obama had the votes to repeal it. Fair seems to think that Democrats function like Republicans. Anything that the fearless leader puts forth, then the drones must automatically vote for it or face being expelled from the party. It might work that way on the right, but not on the left.
    -------
    Oh really? Obama could have vetoed the extension – a defacto repeal. He did not.

    January 17, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. smith

    @rs-Like or not Benghazigate is a scandal. They blamed the attack on protesters getting out of control over a youtube video. The dems made this into a scandal.

    January 17, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. BeenThereDoneThat

    Despite the GOPTP's DESPERATE efforts to disparage Hillary, she's STILL going to WIN the Presidency in 2016!

    January 17, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    Hillary lied to, and deceived the people of America, and indeed the world. the truth is known......it was all a deliberate lie.......and we WILL hold her accountable for that. She does NOT deserve to be President.

    January 17, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  15. Dan

    She did not have accountability relationships with this attack!

    January 17, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  16. BeenThereDoneThat

    Rich RIGHTWINGERS (ie Koch bros) consider RIGHTWINGERS as clueless sheep who'll believe ANYTHING & can EASILY be BOUGHT!

    January 17, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. Hector Slagg

    So who dropped the Ball.
    The whole incident is on the Obama Administration, right or wrong. For anyone trying to talk to Obama about anything was like getting a flight to the moon. Obama was nowhere to be found. Mostly he was out campaigning. Obama ran for president but has yet to take the job seriously except for his big social coup, Obama Care. Of course it will always be controversial as was the warnings about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Will people give the democrats a pass next election. If current polls are any indication . a huge Republican sweep is coming.

    January 17, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    "... The Patriot act was set to expire. A vote was taken to extend it, so I don't know what she's talking about saying Obama had the votes to repeal it. ... "

    Oh really? Obama could have vetoed the extension – a defacto repeal. He did not.
    -------------------------
    Like I told you earlier, Bin Laden was still making threatening videos. As much as I would like to see parts of it repealed, not extending the Patriot Act at point in time would have been a bad and most unpopular move. Really.

    January 17, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. rs

    smith

    @rs-Like or not Benghazigate is a scandal. They blamed the attack on protesters getting out of control over a youtube video. The dems made this into a scandal.
    ___________________
    In Right Wingnut world perhaps. As there is no crime, no proof of cover-up, no conspiracy, no proof of any wrong-doing, you are left with four deaths of Americans on hostile shores. To me the scandal is the lengths the GOP will go – even to the point of undermining our government and diplomacy to manufacture conflict.

    January 17, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    Hillary lied to, and deceived the people of America, and indeed the world. the truth is known......it was all a deliberate lie.......and we WILL hold her accountable for that. She does NOT deserve to be President.
    _________________________
    Prove it!

    January 17, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. rs

    Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Tampa Tim

    Fair – Obama had 58 dems and 2 independents in the senate until September of 2009. In September of 2009, the GOP got their 41 senator and government ground to a halt. Being from MA, I thought you would know that.
    ---––
    I think Fair missed the boat on this one. The Patriot act was set to expire. A vote was taken to extend it, so I don't know what she's talking about saying Obama had the votes to repeal it. Fair seems to think that Democrats function like Republicans. Anything that the fearless leader puts forth, then the drones must automatically vote for it or face being expelled from the party. It might work that way on the right, but not on the left.
    ---
    Oh really? Obama could have vetoed the extension – a defacto repeal. He did not.
    __________________
    Silliness. The Right Wingnuts would have gone crazy if he had. "Leading from behind" "soft on terrorists" Blah, blah, blah. It's the GOP game- mindless whining.

    January 17, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. rs

    Hector Slagg

    So who dropped the Ball.
    The whole incident is on the Obama Administration, right or wrong.
    _________________________
    Get back with us after you've cleared the backlog of Bush/Cheney disasters, eh?

    January 17, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  23. S.B. Stein

    Graham really has no place to speak because he was not there to look over all the material. The one thing that would have prevented the loss would have been preventing the ambassador from going there in the first place. It would have helped if the security detail would have said that you can't go there because we can't protect you.

    January 17, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  24. Tony

    Republicans keep talking about the media not covering Benghazi, IRS, and other events that are "scandals" only because Republicans insist that they are. Republicans can't come up with evidence to back up their claims. (The ACA rollout was a real scandal, for which Obama apologized, and he deserved the grief that the media gave him on the rollout.) Well, FOX News is part of the media too. Has FOX News uncovered any evidence on these "scandals" yet? Any evidence of coverup of scandals? Issa has been investigating the various "scandals" for a long time now. He has found nothing, despite his subpoena powers. The media, including FOX News, does not have subpoena powers.

    January 17, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. Malory Archer

    smith

    @rs-Like or not Benghazigate is a scandal. They blamed the attack on protesters getting out of control over a youtube video. The dems made this into a scandal.

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

    There were protests happening all over the world during that period – and the protesters stated clearly that they were protesting the video. It doesn't take much of a stretch to suspect early on that Benghazi was any different.

    January 17, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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