January 24th, 2013
08:47 AM ET
7 years ago

Johnson says he should not have 'speculated' about Clinton's emotional moments

(CNN) - Sen. Ron Johnson on Thursday said he went a bit too far in speculating about why Hillary Clinton choked up during her Senate testimony on the U.S. Consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya.

"I did not accuse her of crying," Johnson said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien." "I was responding to a question, Soledad. I probably speculated and I shouldn't have."

The senator from Wisconsin, who was elected with tea party support in 2010, questioned Wednesday whether Clinton's emotional moments on Capitol Hill Wednesday were nothing but an aversion strategy.

"I think she just decided before she was going to describe emotionally the four dead Americans, the heroes, and use that as her trump card to get out of the questions. It was a good way of getting out of really having to respond to me," Johnson said in an interview with BuzzFeed.

While Clinton did tear up in her comments-talking about those killed and their families–she also erupted in anger at one point when Johnson grilled her about the erroneous, initial talking points used to explain the cause of the attack to the public. While it was first said to have been spurred by a spontaneous protest over an anti-Islam film, the administration later defined the violence as a planned terrorist attack.

"With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans," Clinton said in response to Johnson's repeated questions. "Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided they'd go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator."

Her quote–"What difference does it make?"–quickly went viral, with some conservatives using it as an attack line on Twitter.

Speaking Thursday, Johnson stood by his questions, saying it was "important that we should have obtained those answers right away" and accusing the administration of "playing election politics, no doubt about it."

"I really think the American people do have an expectation that this president, this administration is honest with them, so I think it makes a great deal of difference," he added, arguing the State Department and intelligence community should have had a clearer picture of the events that unfolded.

Further pressed about Clinton's answers to his questions, Johnson said he did agree with Clinton on one point.

"The bottom line is I agree with Secretary Clinton that we need to understand what happened so we can prevent it in the future," he said.

Following her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton gave testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee later in the day Wednesday.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • Libya • Ron Johnson • Senate • State Department
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Ron Johnson disgraced himself as show little respect for office of Sec'y of State yesterday during the hearings. Both he and Rand Paul allowed theselves get personal.

    January 24, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  2. Malory Archer

    Johnson says he should not have 'speculated' about Clinton's emotional moments


    But you did mr. johnson, and you meant to do so. You and auqa budda have proven yourselves to be nothing more than petulent children, and there's no taking it back. Live with it.

    January 24, 2013 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. Facts don't Lie

    seems to me that this Senator was just trying to make a name for himself attacking the SOS so there can be some great sound bites for him on FoxNews and the like. Yes sir now more people know who you are, and that just means more of us can have a negative opinion of you just like a majority of Americans currently have of the Tea Party.

    January 24, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  4. Babyboomer

    This guys a jerk. Does he make these kinds of comments when Speaker Boehner cries???

    January 24, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. Just Wondering

    Did he really say " I probably speculated and I shouldn't of." Is it possible he said "...shouldn't have."?

    Did he really speculate that it was an "aversion strategy"? Is it possible he said "diversion strategy"?

    January 24, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  6. Dennis Freeman

    Add another one to the Tea Party/GOP clown show.

    January 24, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. Roger

    These Republicans keep digging the hole deeper and deeper for themselves. Sen. Johnson, a true Tea Party hypocrite, who shouldn't have even been allowed in the same room as Secretary Clinton, only continued to prove why the majority of Americans support the progressive agenda set forth by President Obama in his inagural address. To be sure, the questions raised were valid and coming from someone who had some tact, diplomacy and respect, perhaps would have come off better. Secretary Clinton put this buffoon in his place and we can all only hope and pray that after she takes a well deserved rest she will make a run in 2016 and become this nations first female President. God bless you Madame Secretary.

    January 24, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. Martha in CF

    Johnson is a typical redumblican loser. If he wants to talk emotions and make crying an issue he needs not look any further than to the house speaker–and he is a man.....How this man got elected over Feingold is beside me.....

    January 24, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  9. DOG1

    sen. Johnson: One of the ways you could help to prevent this sort of thing in the future would be if republican congressmen (YOU) DO NOT VOTE DOWN INCREASED FUNDING FOR SECURITY at State Dept facilities overseas, like YOU AND YOUR OTHER REPUBLICANS DID! Easy to cast blame when you sweep your own part in the problem under the rug.

    January 24, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  10. chad

    This is becoming a witch hunt.

    January 24, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  11. The Dude

    Another Tea Party puke.

    January 24, 2013 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. enuff

    Boehner can cry with his "you like.me, you really like me" moments, but Mrs. Clinton gets skewered because she reacted to four American coffins coming home. This man was only out to attack, not get answers.

    January 24, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. jpmichigan

    There is a BIG difference between falsehood and truth. The American people were fed a line of falsehood regarding the murder of 4 Americans, promoted by the White House, by Miss Rice. Obama continues to use excuses of waiting for further investigation in the matter, to supply what he only wanted the American people to know. The campaigning for re-election was far more important than being up front and truthful. But then eventually the truth will come out and Obama legacy will feel the effects.

    January 24, 2013 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. usresham

    Hope he realizes that he is still immature- politically speaking..

    January 24, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  15. Marie MD

    No "you shouldn't of". Is this what passes for the education of a senator from Wisconsin!?!?!?
    Hillary swept the floor with you and your other cronies. This was a step backward for anyone from the repug party who wishes to run for president in 2016. It didn't work curly top! You sounded like a petulant little boy who needed to be sent to his room.

    January 24, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |