Kinzinger Claim of Benghazi Lies Echoed by Senator Hutchison

by Jim Geraghty

Late last week, a spokesman for former secretary of state Hillary Clinton accused Representative Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) of a “brazen deceit” for his claim that Clinton said the Benghazi attacks were not a terrorist attack in a classified briefing, and that she actually “screamed” at a member of Congress who suggested Benghazi was the work of terrorists.

Clinton aide Nick Merrill said that the briefing was September 20, nine days after the attack, not two days, as Kinzinger recalled. He also scoffed, “So we are to believe that he woke up today, 10 months and 27 days later, and suddenly remembered he heard something that 434 other people somehow missed? Not so much.”

Of course, Kinzinger did in fact ask Secretary Clinton about her comments in that briefing at a January 23 House hearing; she asserted, “I did not say that it was video, that it was about the video for Libya.”

A State Department press briefing on September 20 mentions Hillary’s briefing. Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed, “She will be there with the Director of National Intelligence Clapper. She’ll be there with Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. She’ll also be up there with Sandy Winnefeld from the Joint Chiefs, and she’ll have both a House session and a Senate session.”

Kinzinger is one of only a handful of House members to talk about their session, but more than a few senators came out of Clinton’s briefing in their side claiming she and the others had no useful information to share:

Senators say they were rebuffed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when they pressed for more information about the attack that killed U.S. envoy Christopher Stevens in Libya.

“That is the most useless, worthless briefing I have attended in a long time,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters after the closed-door session.

“It was like pulling teeth to get information yesterday,” [South Carolina Sen. Lindsey] Graham said of the meeting with Clinton and other administration officials. “A lot of senators were frustrated. And you pick up major newspapers in the country and you find details not shared with you.”

The Wall Street Journal published a similarly detailed account of the attack.

“We were told nothing. We were told absolutely nothing,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking Republican on the Armed Services Panel.

Kinzinger’s accusation echoes a late-November claim by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Tex., said on CNN that she was “very concerned” about the administration’s response, citing information given during a classified Senate briefing Sept. 20, more than a week after the attack.

“They were telling us things that they knew, that we even saw in the press, were not correct information,” she said, adding that “I do think we need to go into this in depth.”

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