As Hillary Clinton prepared to testify to the House Select Committee on Benghazi in October 2015, her communications and legal teams debated how much “outrage” she should display for lawmakers in her opening statement.
In emails published by Wikileaks Monday, a draft of Mrs. Clinton’s opening remarks to the committee included a line from her book “Hard Choices” in 2014: “I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans.”
Clinton campaign adviser Mandy Grunwald liked that line because, she said, “we need a bit of moral outrage.”
But campaign official Jennifer Palmieri balked at the line, saying “I think that is too graphic and splashes back on her as appearing to exploit their deaths,” referring to the deaths of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
Mrs. Clinton didn’t use the line in her opening statement.
The draft also included this line about Mr. Stevens: “Chris did not believe retreat was an option — and neither do I.”
Clinton attorney Katherine Turner objected to it, saying “I don’t think we want to suggest that there was a commitment to be there at any and all costs; but rather, that the known risks were being balanced with the reasons for being there, regular assessments of this balance were made, and that the people on the ground were best-positioned to contribute to those assessments.”
That line also was dropped from her testimony.
Clinton attorney David Kendall advised referring to the State Department’s accountability review board on Benghazi as “non-partisan” instead of “independent.”
“Since it’s appointed by and responsible to the Secretary, I think we open an avenue of attack by calling it ‘independent,’” he wrote.