Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday denounced the Congress’ Benghazi committee, seizing on controversial remarks by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy that she said proved the panel was political hit job aimed solely at her.
Mrs. Clinton, who is scheduled to testify before the committee later this month, stopped short of backing calls by other top Democrats to shut down the committee, saying that is up to Congress.
“Now that they have admitted that it is a political partisan committee for the sole purpose of going after me, not trying to make our diplomats who serve in dangerous areas safer, that’s up to the Congress,” Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said at a forum in New Hampshire hosted by NBC’s “Today.”
Mrs. Clinton and the scandal over her exclusive use of a private email account to conduct official business as secretary of state has become a key issue probed by the committee, which is investigating the 2012 terror attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
The Republican-led probe has come under attack by Democrats follow the remark last week by Mr. McCarthy, California Republican, that the committee’s work was responsible for Mrs. Clinton’s declining poll numbers in the presidential contest.
“This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan political issue out of the deaths of four Americans. I would never have done that. And if I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats who were thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down.”
Providing a glimpse of her upcoming testimony, Mrs. Clinton touted her close relationship to Mr. Stevens and said that she would never have used the deaths of Americans to go after her political foes.
“I would never have done that,” said an indignant Mrs. Clinton. “Look at the situation they chose to exploit to go after me for political reasons: The death of four Americans in Benghazi. I knew the ambassador. I identified [his body]. I asked him to go there. I asked the president to nominate him.”
She said she is looking forward to testifying and answering questions on her own terms, if the committee hasn’t been shut down before she is scheduled to appear on Oct. 22.
“I’ll be there, and I’m looking forward to answering questions about real things when I’m there, and I’m looking forward to having a chance to explain everything we’ve done, everything I asked to happen.” she said. “But it is not appropriate what they have done from obviously their own admission.”