Marathon Benghazi hearing ends after 11 hours

Hillary Clinton.
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

At 9 p.m. Thursday night, the House Benghazi Committee's hearing adjourned, after 11 hours of questioning Hillary Clinton on everything from her email correspondence with friend Sidney Blumenthal to her Libya policy as secretary of state to efforts to rescue Ambassador Chris Stevens.

During the hearing, Clinton revealed that during her time as secretary of state, she "did not do the bulk of my work on email. Some of [the memos] were so top secret that they were brought into my office in a locked briefcase that I had to read and immediately return to the courier." Clinton also said multiple times that Stevens had been in contact with her inner circle, and if he'd wished to communicate his needs, he could send cables and emails. She described how rescuers had tried to get Stevens, who died from smoke inhalation, into a "safe room" following the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi. "One of our failures after the attack was our failure to find the ambassador," she said. "We hoped against hope that he had somehow managed to get out of the compound. Additional efforts to find his body or to find him were unsuccessful, and they had to withdraw because of the continuing attack on the CIA annex before we knew what happened to the ambassador." Later, it came to light that "the Libyans had found the ambassador. And they had carried him back to the hospital, and Libyan doctors labored nearly two hours to resuscitate him."

Committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said the hearing was "not a prosecution," but the Democrats questioned its purpose, with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) telling Clinton: "There's a lot of interest in trying to score points against you tonight." The panel, Schiff said, found "nothing new to tell the American people," adding, "I think we'll rue the day that we did this." Committee member Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) announced on Twitter before the hearing started that "this investigation does not end today. We will continue interviewing others till we get to the bottom of this." He tweeted throughout the day, and after the hearing concluded, stated: "And with that — it's over. The Committee is one step closer to understanding the truth surrounding the death of 4 Americans."

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Toward the end of the hearing, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) alluded to accusations that the committee's goal was to harm Clinton's presidential campaign, saying to applause: "We are better than using taxpayer dollars to try to destroy a campaign. That's not what America's all about." Clinton responded by saying her answers haven't changed since she appeared before the House and Senate two years ago to discuss Benghazi. "I can only hope that the statesmanship overcomes the partisanship," she said. "At some point we have to do this. It is deeply unfortunate that something as serious as what happened in Benghazi could ever be used for partisan political purposes, and I'm hoping that we can move forward together and start working together, we can start listening to each other."

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