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A massive shouting match broke during Hillary's testimony on Benghazi

Clinton’s cleared another hurdle in her White House bid. But she wasn’t even involved in the hearing’s most dramatic moment.

Congress Benghazi Source: Associated Press

HILLARY CLINTON STOOD her ground firmly during 11 hours of questioning over the 2012 Benghazi attacks in Libya, fending off Republican blows at a high-stakes congressional hearing in Washington that could impact her bid for the White House next year.

Partisan fireworks exploded repeatedly between Republican and Democrat members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi during a marathon grilling that at times took on the character of an interrogation.

But the Democratic frontrunner for president remained composed. She accused her rivals of exploiting the deadly attacks in Libya – which came under her watch as secretary of state – for political gain.

She wasn’t even involved, during most heated exchange of the affair, as Republican Committee Chair Trey Gowdy and Elijah Cummings blew-up at each other over correspondence on the subject of Benghazi from Sidney Blumenthal – a longtime friend of Clinton.

Watch: 

Source: Roll Call/YouTube

Share of the blame

In her own highly anticipated testimony Clinton acknowledged – as she has done in the past – her share of blame for the attack which cost the lives of four Americans including ambassador Christopher Stevens.

“I take responsibility for what happened in Benghazi,” she said.

“I’m here to honour the service of those four men.”

But she firmly rebutted claims that she failed to boost security at the US diplomatic compound overrun by Islamist extremists on September 11, 2012, saying she was never consulted directly about requests for additional measures.

Source: CNN/YouTube

White House threat

The Benghazi tragedy has hovered over Clinton for three years, threatening to upend her White House candidacy, especially after the inquiry launched 17 months ago led to revelations that she used a personal email account and server while she was top US diplomat.

Her strong performance at the hearing could help Clinton convince sceptical voters that it is time to move on from the controversy that has overshadowed her campaign.

Had she stumbled badly on such a consequential day, it would have invited enhanced scrutiny of her judgment and diplomatic acumen during the run-up to the November 2016 election.

Democratic lawmakers on the panel occasionally lashed out their Republican colleagues in Clinton’s defence.

“If we stay here much longer, you’re going to have to take that 3 am phone call from the committee room,” Democratic panel member Adam Schiff said at one point.

Reaction

On Twitter, the reviews of Clinton’s performance were overwhelmingly positive. Many people said it would be a tremendous boost to her presidential campaign.

Congress has conducted seven probes into the Benghazi attack, and Clinton launched an Accountability Review Board to investigate the events.

The board’s report did not fault the State Department but cited “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” that resulted in inadequate security.

Critics have pointed to the department’s rebuff of requests for additional US security measures in Libya, left unstable after the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi

Clinton insisted such requests, or rejection of requests, rarely reached her desk.

“None of them with respect to security in Benghazi did,” she said.

At one point, Republican Peter Roskam argued that Clinton used Kadhafi’s 2011 overthrow as a way to “turn progress in Libya into a political win for HillaryClinton.”

She rejected that.

“I would imagine I’ve thought more about what happened than all of you put together,” she said later.

“I have been wracking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done.”

AFP with reporting from Daragh Brophy. 

Read: He’s out: Joe Biden is NOT running for US president

Read: Trump steals limelight at Democratic debate by live-tweeting the whole thing

 

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