All posts in category House of Representatives
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 6, 2017
Full Text Political Transcripts February 28, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Address to Joint Session of Congress
TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by President Trump in Joint Address to Congress
Source: WH, 2-28-17
9:09 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States — (applause) — and citizens of America:
Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation’s path towards civil rights and the work that still remains to be done. (Applause.) Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms. (Applause.)
Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present. That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart. A new chapter — (applause) — of American Greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation. And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.
What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit. Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead. (Applause.) All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.
In nine years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our independence. It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world. But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year? What kind of country will we leave for our children?
I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future. For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries. We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, and so many other places throughout our land.
We’ve defended the borders of other nations while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate. And we’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.
Then, in 2016, the Earth shifted beneath our feet. The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds — families who just wanted a fair shot for their children and a fair hearing for their concerns.
But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country. Finally, the chorus became an earthquake, and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand: that America must put its own citizens first. Because only then can we truly make America great again. (Applause.)
Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need. Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve. Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our very, very beautiful land. Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and, ultimately, stop. And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity. Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people. (Applause.)
It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.
Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart and many others have announced that they will invest billions and billions of dollars in the United States, and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs. (Applause.)
The stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election on November 8th, a record. We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of a fantastic — and it is a fantastic — new F-35 jet fighter, and we’ll be saving billions more on contracts all across our government. We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential federal workers.
We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials and a lifetime ban — (applause) — thank you — and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.
We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every government agency. (Applause.) And we’re imposing a new rule which mandates that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. (Applause.) We’re going to stop the regulations that threaten the future and livelihood of our great coal miners. (Applause.)
We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — (applause) — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs. And I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel. (Applause.)
We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership. (Applause.) And with the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams. (Applause.)
To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime. I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread all across our nation. (Applause.) We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth, and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted. (Applause.)
At the same time, my administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. (Applause.) By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone. (Applause.) We want all Americans to succeed, but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law at our borders. (Applause.)
For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border. (Applause.) As we speak tonight, we are removing gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak, and as I promised throughout the campaign.
To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this one question: What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders? (Applause.)
Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States. We are also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism. (Applause.) According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism and terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home — from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon, and, yes, even the World Trade Center.
We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany, and all over the world. It is not compassionate, but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. (Applause.) Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values. We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America. We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists. (Applause.)
That is why my administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our nation safe and to keep out those out who will do us harm. (Applause.)
As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, and women, and children of all faiths and all beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet. (Applause.)
I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel. (Applause.)
Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a justice to the United States Supreme Court, from my list of 20 judges, who will defend our Constitution. (Applause.)
I am greatly honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight. (Applause.) Thank you, Maureen. Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice. To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill and deep devotion to the law. He was confirmed unanimously by the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination. (Applause.)
Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited. Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force. Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps. More than one in five people in their prime working years are not working. We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years. In the last eight years, the past administration has put on more new debt than nearly all of the other Presidents combined.
We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars. And overseas we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.
Solving these and so many other pressing problems will require us to work past the differences of party. It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history. But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much, much harder for companies to leave our country. (Applause.)
Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world. My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. (Applause.) It will be a big, big cut.
At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class. We must create a level playing field for American companies and our workers. We have to do it. (Applause.) Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes. But when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them nothing, or almost nothing.
I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson. In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House. ((Laughter and applause.) And they wanted me to ride one and I said, “No, thank you.” (Laughter.)
At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business? They said that it’s good. I asked them further, how are you doing with other countries, mainly international sales? They told me — without even complaining, because they have been so mistreated for so long that they’ve become used to it — that it’s very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate. They said that in the case of another country, they taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent. They weren’t even asking for a change. But I am. (Applause.)
I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be fair trade. It’s been a long time since we had fair trade. The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American government… will produce want and ruin among our people.” Lincoln was right — and it’s time we heeded his advice and his words. (Applause.) I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers be taken advantage of us any longer. They have taken advantage of our country. No longer. (Applause.)
I am going to bring back millions of jobs. Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. (Applause.) The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers. Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others, have a merit-based immigration system. (Applause.) It’s a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs American taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.
Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits. It will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class. And they will do it quickly, and they will be very, very happy, indeed. (Applause.)
I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: To improve jobs and wages for Americans; to strengthen our nation’s security; and to restore respect for our laws. If we are guided by the wellbeing of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades. (Applause.)
Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program — the building of the Interstate Highway System. The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding. (Applause.)America has spent approximately $6 trillion in the Middle East — all the while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this $6 trillion, we could have rebuilt our country twice, and maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate. (Applause.)
To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs. (Applause.) This effort will be guided by two core principles: buy American and hire American. (Applause.)
Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare — (applause) — with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and, at the same time, provide better healthcare. (Applause.)
Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for our country. (Applause.) The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we are going do. (Applause.)
Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his state — the state of Kentucky — and it’s unsustainable and collapsing.
One-third of counties have only one insurer, and they are losing them fast. They are losing them so fast. They are leaving, and many Americans have no choice at all. There’s no choice left. Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor and keep your plan? We now know that all of those promises have been totally broken. Obamacare is collapsing, and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. (Applause.)
Action is not a choice, it is a necessity. So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster. (Applause.)
Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:
First, we should ensure that Americans with preexisting conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges. (Applause.)
Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts — but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by our government. (Applause.)
Thirdly, we should give our great state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out. (Applause.)
Fourth, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance, and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs, and bring them down immediately. (Applause.)
And finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines — (applause) — which will create a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring costs way down and provide far better care. So important.
Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing and hope.
Our citizens deserve this, and so much more — so why not join forces and finally get the job done, and get it done right? (Applause.) On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country and for the good of the American people. (Applause.)
My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave — (applause) — to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clean water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure. (Applause.)
True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a much brighter future.
An incredible young woman is with us this evening, who should serve as an inspiration to us all. Today is Rare Disease Day, and joining us in the gallery is a rare disease survivor, Megan Crowley. (Applause.)
Megan was diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old. She was not expected to live past five. On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old and a sophomore at Notre Dame. (Applause.)
Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter. But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need. If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles just like Megan. (Applause.) In fact, our children will grow up in a nation of miracles.
But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind and the souls of every American child. Education is the civil rights issue of our time. (Applause.) I am calling upon members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African American and Latino children. (Applause.) These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home school that is right for them. (Applause.)
Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather. As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning — a great learning center — with the help of a tax credit and a scholarship program.
Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year she will get her master’s degree in social work. We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha. (Applause.)
But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence. The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century. In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone, and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher. This is not acceptable in our society. (Applause.)
Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job. (Applause.) But to create this future, we must work with, not against — not against — the men and women of law enforcement. (Applause.) We must build bridges of cooperation and trust — not drive the wedge of disunity and, really, it’s what it is, division. It’s pure, unadulterated division. We have to unify.
Police and sheriffs are members of our community. They’re friends and neighbors, they’re mothers and fathers, sons and daughters — and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry about whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound. We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement. (Applause.)
And we must support the victims of crime. I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American victims. The office is called VOICE — Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media and silenced by special interests. (Applause.) Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them. Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.
Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member who had just been released from prison. Jamiel Shaw, Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great college quarterback. But he never got the chance. His father, who is in the audience tonight, has become a very good friend of mine. Jamiel, thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)
Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis. Their husbands, Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis, were slain in the line of duty in California. They were pillars of their community. These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations. Should have never been in our country.
Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna. Jenna, I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you. (Applause.)
To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica, I want you to know that we will never stop fighting for justice. Your loved ones will never, ever be forgotten. We will always honor their memory. (Applause.)
Finally, to keep America safe, we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war — if they must — they have to fight and they only have to win. (Applause.)
I am sending Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester — (applause) — and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history. My budget will also increase funding for our veterans. Our veterans have delivered for this nation, and now we must deliver for them. (Applause.)
The challenges we face as a nation are great, but our people are even greater. And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform. (Applause.)
We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens. Ryan died as he lived: a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation. (Applause.) I just spoke to our great General Mattis, just now, who reconfirmed that — and I quote — “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.” Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. Thank you. (Applause.) And Ryan is looking down, right now — you know that — and he is very happy because I think he just broke a record. (Laughter and applause.)
For as the Bible teaches us, “There is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom. And we will never forget Ryan. (Applause.)
To those allies who wonder what kind of a friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform. Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies all across the globe.
We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two world wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War, and defeated communism. (Applause.)
But our partners must meet their financial obligations. And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that. In fact, I can tell you, the money is pouring in. Very nice. (Applause.) We expect our partners — whether in NATO, the Middle East, or in the Pacific — to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost. Have to do that.
We will respect historic institutions, but we will respect the foreign rights of all nations, and they have to respect our rights as a nation also. (Applause.) Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people, and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. (Applause.)
But we know that America is better off when there is less conflict, not more. We must learn from the mistakes of the past. We have seen the war and the destruction that have ravaged and raged throughout the world — all across the world. The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters, in many cases, is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long, long process of rebuilding. (Applause.)
America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace, wherever peace can be found.
America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these terrible, terrible wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world. Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just, and more free.
On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial. At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their wonderful creations. Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time. Remington unveiled the first typewriter. An early attempt was made at electric light. Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen. Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year. (Applause.)
Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people. Cures to the illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope. American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream. Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect. And streets where mothers are safe from fear, schools where children learn in peace, and jobs where Americans prosper and grow are not too much to ask. (Applause.)
When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before — for all Americans. This is our vision. This is our mission. But we can only get there together. We are one people, with one destiny. We all bleed the same blood. We all salute the same great American flag. And we all are made by the same God. (Applause.)
When we fulfill this vision, when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began. The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts, the bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls, and the confidence to turn those hopes and those dreams into action.
From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears; inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past; and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.
I am asking all citizens to embrace this renewal of the American spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold, and daring things for our country. I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment. Believe in yourselves, believe in your future, and believe, once more, in America.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States. (Applause.)
10:09 P.M. EST
Posted by bonniekgoodman on February 28, 2017
Full Text Political Transcripts January 26, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at GOP Retreat Philadelphia, PA
TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:
President Donald Trump’s Speech at GOP Retreat Philadelphia, PA
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 26, 2017
Full Text Political Transcripts December 13, 2016: President-elect Donald Trump Thank You Rally in West Allis, Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
President-elect Donald Trump Thank You Rally in West Allis, Wisconsin with House Speaker Paul Ryan
Vice President-elect Mike Pence and President-elect Donald Trump Speeches
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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan Speeches
Posted by bonniekgoodman on December 13, 2016
Politics November 30, 2016: Nancy Pelosi to remain House Democratic Minority Leader after re-election vote
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D -CA) staved off challenger Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), to remain the House Democratic Minority Leader for the 115th Congress. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, House Democrats voted 134-63 in a closed-door meeting to keep Pelosi in as minority leader. The Nov. 15 elections were delayed at the closed-door meeting by request after the Nov. 8, election. Soon after Ryan, 43 announced his plans to challenge Pelosi, 76, but was unable to garner enough support to unseat her.
The Democratic caucus requested a delay in the elections of the Democratic House leadership posts at their Nov. 15 meeting. They were dissatisfied with Pelosi’s leadership and the direction of the party after their losses in the election. House Democrats picked up just six seats, lost the presidency and only picked up two Senate seats. Democrats wanted Pelosi to make changes in the leadership; she promises to every new session but never follows through. Democrats also needed time to reflect on the election and the message the American public sent the party.
Ryan announced his intention to challenge Pelosi on Nov. 17. Ryan argued the need for change after the Democrats crushing election defeat. He said the party needed a younger leadership and vision that would focus on the Democrats “economic message” and “geographic outreach.” Ryan told ABC News, “Donald Trump is the president, that is how bad we are out of touch, that the backbone of our party went and voted for Donald Trump, and I say that’s out fault. Clearly we have got to do something much different. We have to connect to these working-class voters and we have a broad coalition.” Ryan has been in the House representing first Ohio’s 13th district since he was elected in 2003.
The Ohio representative announced his candidacy with a letter to the Democratic caucus. Ryan wrote, “I have spent countless hours meeting and talking to Members of our Caucus, and the consensus is clear. What we are doing right now is not working. While having a position in Democratic Leadership has never been my life’s ambition, after this election I believe we all need to re-evaluate our roles within the Caucus, the Democratic Party, and our country. That is why I am announcing my run for Minority Leader of the Democratic Caucus and humbly request your support.” Only 11 House members publicly declared their support for Ryan.
At that point, Pelosi dismissed Ryan’s challenge telling the press, “I’ve regularly had some opponents. House Democrats must be unified, strategic, and unwavering.” Pelosi has been the Democratic House leader for 13 years, and during four of those years from 2007 to 2011, she was the first female Speaker of the House. Previously, Pelosi served as Democratic Whip. President Barack Obama essentially endorsed Pelosi, saying, “I cannot speak highly enough of Nancy Pelosi. She combines strong, progressive values with just extraordinary political skill.”
The following is the lineup this far for the new House Democratic leadership positions:
Minority (Democratic) Leadership:
Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi
Minority Whip: Steny Hoyer
Assistant Democratic Leader: Jim Clyburn
Caucus Chairman: Joe Crowley
Caucus Vice-Chairman: Linda Sánchez
Campaign Committee Chairman: Ben Ray Luján
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 30, 2016
House Speaker Paul Ryan re-elected by Republican conference
By Bonnie K. Goodman
House Republicans have opted to re-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R- WI) to a second term. On Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 15, 2016, in a closed-door session Republicans unanimously voted that Ryan should stay on as House Speaker in the 115th session.
Ryan’s re-election with support from all Republicans is surprising, but after a week of shocks, that has become the new norm for Republicans. Ryan’s speakership was in danger before President-elect Donald Trump’s shocking upset victory a week ago on Tuesday, Nov. 8. His lack of support and distancing himself from Trump after a 2005 lewd tape emerged threatened Trump’s chances of winning the presidency. The conservative Freedom Caucus and some Southerner Republicans wanted Ryan replaced.
After the FBI reopened their investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Trump rose in the polls that changed, Ryan had a change of heart, he campaigned and told Americans particularly Republicans to vote for Trump. Since Trump’s election, Ryan has been President-elect Trump’s greatest endorser on Capitol Hill. Ryan sees himself guiding policy for the administration and Republican-controlled Congress. Ryan and Trump met on Thursday, Nov. 10 and had been talking on the phone each day.
Ryan told the conference that Vice President-elect Mike Pence told him Trump supports the entire House Republican leadership’s re-election. In the spirit of their new president, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) gave Trump campaign hats red Make America great Again hats to each member.
Also, a new leadership position was created to help the new president. Ryan appointed Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) the congressional liaison to the Trump transition team. Collins was the one to second Ryan’s re-election. Collins said, “Paul Ryan’s future is as bright as ever. He has no opposition today. I’m seconding Paul Ryan’s nomination today as a sign of Trump’s support of Mr. Ryan. This is a team effort.”
On Tuesday, the Republicans also elected Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers to helm the National Republican Congressional Committee. Stivers was in the running with Rep. Roger Williams of Texas for the post. Now Ryan has to face a full vote in the House when they convene their new session in January, but with full support from the Republican majority, Ryan is certain to coast to a second term as Speaker of the House.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 15, 2016
Politics November 11, 2016: President-Elect Trump goes to Washington meets with Obama, Ryan, and McConnell
President-Elect Trump goes to Washington meets with Obama, Ryan, and McConnell
By Bonnie K. Goodman
President-Elect Donald Trump is moving forward having his first official Washington meeting as the nation’s new Commander-in-Chief after an upset victory on Election Day. On Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, Trump went to Washington meeting first with outgoing President Barack Obama in the Oval Office for the traditional transition of power meeting. Then Trump went to Capitol Hill meeting with Republican Congressional leader, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump’s Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence also was busy in Washington meeting with outgoing Vice President Joe Biden and joining Trump at his Congressional meetings. The new First Lady Melania Trump also was busy meeting with outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama to tour the White House residence and join her husband on Capitol Hill for his meetings.
Trump first arrived Thursday morning with some advisors for White House meeting. Trump met with Obama in the Oval Office for 90 minutes much longer than the planned 15-minute meeting. Afterward, the president and the president-elect spoke to reporters. Although they were adversaries just days before, the country’s interests rise above partisan division when it comes to the transfer of presidential powers.
Obama told reporters, “My No. 1 priority in the next two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful.” Continuing the president said to his successor, “If you succeed, the country succeeds.” Trump, in turn, thanked Obama for the long-running meeting, saying, “The meeting lasted almost for an hour and a half and as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer.” The president-elect called Obama a “very good man” and expressed, “I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. I look forward to being with you many, many more times.”
The White House meeting was surprisingly pleasant to consider the past animosity between Obama and Trump dating back to 2011 when Trump joined the birther movement. Then Trump called for Obama to release his long-form birth certificate not believing Obama was a natural-born citizen. Obama paid Trump back at the 2011White House Correspondents dinner. The rhetoric became more heated during the campaign as Trump blamed Obama for the rise of the terrorist group ISIS, while, Obama just called Trump “unfit for the presidency” on the last day of the campaign.
While Trump met with Obama in the Oval Office, the two first ladies, future and present Melania Trump and Michelle Obama met in the White House residence. Mrs. Obama gave Mrs. Trump a tour of the residence and they had tea together Yellow Oval Room. They discussed raising children in the White House; the Trump’s have son Barron, ten who will be the only one of Trump’s children to be living in the White House. The Obamas’ daughters Malia and Sasha were 10 and 7 when they moved into the White House in 2009. Michelle also showed Melania the Truman balcony.
The two have they own problems. Although Melania has never criticized Michelle, some of her convention speech closely resembled Michelle’s 2008 speech. Mrs. Obama, however, heavily attacked Trump on the campaign trail especially after the surfacing of his 2005 lewd tape in October. All the issues seem to be put behind the Trumps and Obamas at their transition meetings. Later in the evening, Trump tweeted, “A fantastic day in D.C. Met with President Obama for first time. Really good meeting, great chemistry. Melania liked Mrs. O a lot!”
After the White House, the Trumps’ along with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence had lunch at the Capitol Hill Club. They then headed off to meet with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Ryan gave Trump a tour of the Capitol building and then met in the Speaker’s office. Ryan took Trump out to his office balcony, which has views of the inauguration spot Trump and Pence will sworn-in, the Washington Monument even Trump’s new Washington hotel. At the meeting, they discussed policy priorities for the new administration and new session of Congress.
Ryan then spoke with reporters with the Trumps and Pence. The speaker expressed, “Donald Trump had one of the most impressive victories we have ever seen and we’re going to turn that victory into progress for the American people, and we are now talking about how we are going to hit the ground running to get this country turned around and make America great again.” While Trump said, “We can’t get started fast enough. And whether its health care or immigration, so many different things, we will be working on them very rapidly.”
Trump and Ryan also shared a complicated relationship throughout the campaign, but now the Speaker has embraced the president-elect fully. Only during the last days of the campaign after the FBI first announced that they were renewing their investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and Trump rose in the polls, and Trump supporters in Congress starting threatening Ryan about possibly losing his speakership if Trump loses, did Ryan campaign for the Republican nominee. After Trump won along with the Republicans keeping both Houses of Congress, Ryan has been speaking enthusiastically about the president-elect. Ryan hopes to spearhead the administration’s policies through Congress.
President-Elect Trump capped his day in Washington by meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Trumps and Pence met with the Senate leader in his Capitol office. Pence had to leave after 20-minutes to make his meeting with his predecessor Vice President Joe Biden. After the meeting, McConnell told reporters, “It was a first-class meeting.” McConnell stressed that they discussed “issues that we obviously agree on” and told the press the President-Elect wants “get going early, and so do we.”
After the meeting, Trump told the press, “A lot of really great priorities. People will be very, very happy. Well, we have a lot. We’re looking very strongly at immigration, we’re going to look at the borders, very importantly, we’re looking very strongly at health care and we’re looking at jobs. Big league jobs.” President-Elect Trump continued, explaining, “Quite frankly we can’t get started fast enough… whether it’s on healthcare or immigration so many different things. We’re going to lower taxes, so many different things we are going to be working on.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 11, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts November 10, 2016: President-Elect Donald Trump, VP-Elect Mike Pence meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan Press Conference
TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION:
President-Elect Donald Trump, VP-Elect Mike Pence meet with House Speaker Paul Ryan Press Conference
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 10, 2016
Full Text Campaign Buzz 2016 November 9, 2016: House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Post-Election Press Conference on Donald Trump’s Victory
2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Post-Election Press Conference
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 9, 2016
Politics November 4, 2016: Paul Ryan makes it clear he plans to run for House Speaker again for 115th Congress
Paul Ryan makes it clear he plans to run for House Speaker again for 115th Congress
By Bonnie K. Goodman
Despite the chatter that Rep. Paul Ryan would not be reelected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, he is still planning to run for a second full term. Ryan appeared on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, on local Green Bay, Wisconsin radio show WTAQ’s “The Jerry Bader Show,” and he pushed back against claims by House Republicans that he could not win and should not run.
In the interview, Ryan dismissed a story published in the Hill on Thursday, claiming Republicans will not vote him because of his lack of support for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Ryan claimed, “This is the typical chatter you have every two years. They call it ‘palace intrigue’ in the Hill rags. I am going to seek to stay on as Speaker.”
Ryan cited the reasons why he wants and should remain, speaker, saying, “There’s a lot of unfinished work to do, and I think I can do a lot to help our cause and our country. I’ve led us to offer a very comprehensive agenda to take to the country and I want to execute and implement that agenda.”
The speaker has the support of his deputies for another term in the top spot in the House. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) have all spoken out supporting Ryan. According to House Republicans all the deputy leaders would be flawed candidates and would never win the votes to become speaker.
On Thursday, the Hill published a feature report entitled “Chatter grows that Ryan could step down” based on the comments of four House Republicans, one which is a “senior lawmaker.” The representatives expressed that there is animosity within the party against Ryan and he could not win the 218 voted needed to remain speaker.
The Conservative Freedom Caucus is against him, as are some mainstream Republicans in the south and districts with constituents who strongly support Trump. Add the possibility of losing10 to 20 seats and Ryan’s odds would go down lower according to the sources. Additionally, 10 Republicans did not vote for Ryan the first time around. All these factors could spell defeat.
The Republican sources claim that Ryan’s future as Speaker is tied to the election results. If Trump wins, Ryan would have an easier time winning reelection, if Clinton wins or Trump loses by a small margin Ryan will face the blame that he could help the nominee and bring the White House into Republican hands. Supporting the nominee also helps the down ballots as well making sure Congress remains in Republican control.
Republican constituents are upset with the Speaker for abandoning Trump after the 2005 lewd tape emerged believing Ryan’s support and campaigning would have helped the GOP nominee. The nominee and the speaker have had a contentious relationship through the primaries and even after Trump became the presumptive nominee, Ryan was always reluctant to support him and took long to endorse him.
Ryan now seems to see the benefits of supporting Trump even marginally. Republicans are returning and rallying around the nominee and the entire ticket after news broke that the FBI is renewing their investigation in Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton
Earlier this week Ryan announced that he voted for the party’s nominee, although he did not mention Trump by name. In the last days of the campaign, Ryan plans to campaign with Trump’s running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Saturday in Wisconsin where they will both be campaigning with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, is facing a tough reelection battle.
In his interview with Bader Ryan touted the ticket more as anti-Clinton vote rather an endorsement for Trump’s qualities. Ryan expressed, “Let that be a case for voting against Hillary Clinton. Let that be a case for voting for Trump, Pence, [Sen. Ron] Johnson, Congress, everybody.” Ryan argued, “She will bring all this baggage in, think of the cloud that will surround her with this ongoing investigation and how the Clintons play the system. I don’t think we want to see that in the White House again.”
A week after the election House Republicans intend to vote for speaker on Nov. 15. Then Ryan will face the entire new 115th Congress, which makes their formal vote on the first day of the new session on Jan. 3, 2017.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on November 4, 2016
FBI hands Congress over Clinton interview notes investigation report
By Bonnie K. Goodman
The FBI handed over its report on their decision not to recommend criminal charges for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her private email server to Congress. The FBI sent the classified report originally for the Department of Justice and interview memos, called 302s to the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, following through on their request. The House is also is also request the DOJ file charges because Clinton perjured herself in her sworn testimony to the House’s Benghazi committee.
FBI Acting Assistant Director Jason V. Herring included a letter to “House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz” and “ranking Democratic member, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings” re-explaining the bureau’s decision not to charge Clinton. Herring wrote, “The FBI conducted this investigation, as it does all investigations, in a competent, honest and independent way. As the director stated, the FBI did find evidence that Secretary Clinton and her colleagues were extremely careless in their handling of certain, very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Continuing Herring clarified, “The term ‘extremely careless’ was intended to be a common sense way of describing the actions of Secretary Clinton and her colleagues. The director did not equate ‘extreme carelessness’ with the legal standard of ‘gross negligence’ that is required by the statute. In this case, the FBI assessed that the facts did not support a recommendation to prosecute her or others within the scope of the investigation for gross negligence.” Herring also suggested that usually what Clinton would be subject to is “severe administrative consequences.”
Among the documents, the FBI handed over was the summary of Clinton’s three and a half hour interview with the bureau that took place last month. FBI Director James Comey promised the reports and memos when he testified on July 7 before the House Oversight panel, saying he would do “everything I can possibly give you under the law and to doing it as quickly as possible.”
The documents are considered classified and will never be made public. Republicans are trying to keep Clinton’s email scandal in the limelight the election, hoping it can damage her bid for the presidency despite leading Republican Donald Trump in the polls. The FBI issued a statement warning that the information should not be made public, writing, “The material contains classified and other sensitive information and is being provided with the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed without FBI concurrence.”
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) issued a statement, however, arguing the documents should be made available to the public. Grassley wrote, “On initial review, it seems that much of the material given to the Senate today, other than copies of the large number of emails on Secretary Clinton’s server containing classified information, is marked ‘unclassified/for official use.’ The FBI should make as much of the material available as possible. The public’s business ought to be public, with few exceptions. The people’s interest would be served in seeing the documents that are unclassified. The FBI has made public statements in describing its handling of the case, so sharing documents in support of those statements wherever appropriate would make sense.”
Clinton campaign responded with a statement, “This is an extraordinarily rare step that was sought solely by Republicans for the purposes of further second-guessing the career professionals at the FBI. We believe that if these materials are going to be shared outside the Justice Department, they should be released widely so that the public can see them for themselves, rather than allow Republicans to mischaracterize them through selective, partisan leaks.”
The spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee confirmed receipt in a statement, “The FBI has turned over a ‘number of documents’ related to their investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email server. Committee staff is currently reviewing the information that is classified SECRET. There are no further details at this time.”
Congressional Republican are looking to make sure Clinton pays as CNN pointed out a “political price” for her actions during her tenure at the State Department since the FBI did not recommend criminal charges. Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking the DOJ to charge Clinton with perjury claiming she perjured herself during her testimony to the House’s Benghazi committee.
Republicans are accusing Clinton of lying four times in her testimony to the committee saying what she said countered what she told the FBI. In the letter, Chaffetz and Goodlatte wrote, “The evidence collected by the (FBI) during its investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email system during her time as secretary of state appears to directly contradict several aspects of her sworn testimony.”
On Monday, Aug. 15, 35 Republicans led by Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) called on Comey to release Clinton’s interview notes because they believe she perjured herself. Tuesday morning before the documents were handed over Marino appeared on Fox News where he said about Clinton, “That she lied under oath to Congress when she came into testify. And if she lied, she perjured herself. She lied to Congress, therefore she can be prosecuted and spend as long as 10 years in prison for doing that. The director of the FBI, the Justice Department, in my opinion, they’re taking direction from the White House saying, ‘Do nothing about this.'”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 17, 2016
Trump finally endorses Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte
By Bonnie K. Goodman
After a couple of days of drama, Republican nominee Donald Trump endorsed Speaker of the House and Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, Arizona Senator John McCain and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte in their re-election bids for their Congressional and Senate seats. Trump made the endorsements official on Friday evening, Aug. 5, 2016, at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Trump expressed that he wanted to be a “big tent” Republican like Ronald Reagan in a speech that was rather unusual for Trump in that he read it off prepared remarks.
Trump in announcing his endorsements stated, “This campaign is not about me or any one candidate, it’s about America. I understand and embrace the wisdom of Ronald Reagan’s big tent within the party. So I embrace the wisdom that my 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.” Trump emphasized that he would need the support of the House and Senate as president.
Then after 10 minutes into his speech, Trump endorsed Speaker Ryan. Trump remarked, “We will have disagreements, but we will disagree as friends and never stop working together toward victory. And very importantly toward real change. So in our shared mission to make America great again, I support and endorse our speaker of the house Paul Ryan.” Trump’s endorsement comes only days before Ryan’s primary on Tuesday, Aug. 9, where he leads his opponent Paul Nehlen by 66 percent.
Continuing Trump endorsed McCain, both have been highly critical of the other. The GOP nominee said, “And while I’m at it, I hold in the highest esteem Senator John McCain for his service to our country in uniform and public office, and I fully support and endorse his reelection Very important. We’ll work together.”
After the rally, Trump’s campaign sent a fundraising email to supporters touting party unity and the endorsements. The email read, “It’s time to unite our Party and deny the third term of Obama. I have officially endorsed Paul Ryan — and together, we will fight for YOU, and together we will Make America Great Again!”
The controversy over the Ryan endorsement commenced on Tuesday, Aug. 2 when Trump spoke to the Washington for an interview. Trump echoed Ryan earlier comments about endorsing him back in May. The GOP nominee said, “I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country. We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”
Trump running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence broke with Trump over the endorsements choosing to endorse Ryan on Wednesday, Aug. 3. Pence endorsed Ryan in a phone interview with Fox News, stating, “I strongly support Paul Ryan, strongly endorse his re-election. He is a longtime friend. He’s a strong conservative leader. I believe we need Paul Ryan in leadership in the Congress of the United States.”
Pence later tweeted that he told his running mate in advance of his decision, “I talked to @realDonaldTrump this morning about my support for Paul Ryan and our longtime friend ship….” According to a Trump campaign insider, the GOP nominee is giving Pence “latitude” to speak his mind and convictions, and Pence’s endorsement was hardly a falling out.
Trump’s withholding the endorsement, however, was causing friction with fellow Republicans, who were quickly abandoning the GOP nominee. Even Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, a friend of Ryan’s and also from Wisconsin, was upset at Trump veering off the script.
Trump’s decision to endorse Ryan came only hours after Ryan suggested he could be easily unendorsed Trump if he sees fit. On Friday morning, Ryan told local Wisconsin radio WTAQ’s Jerry Bader, “None of these things are ever blank checks, that goes with any situation in any kind of race.” Continuing Ryan explained why he endorsed Trump in the first place, “he won the delegates, he won the thing fair and square it’s just that simple.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 6, 2016
Full Text RNC Day 2, July 19, 2016: Paul Ryan’s Speech at Republican National Convention in Cleveland
2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s Speech at Republican National Convention in Cleveland
Source: Time, 7-19-16
RYAN: Hey, everybody! Hey, thank you all very, very much.
On, Wisconsin! Hey, delegates, friends, fellow citizens, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the privilege of addressing this 41st convention of the party of Lincoln. And as part of my chairman duties, let me thank all of the people of this beautiful city for looking after us this week.
RYAN: And above all, above all, I want to thank the men and women who are here from law enforcement, for your service.
You know, standing up here again, it all hits kind of a familiar feel. Students of trivia will recall that last time around I was your nominee for vice president. It was a great honor. It was a great honor, even if things didn’t work out quite according to the plan.
Hey, I’m a positive guy. I’ve found some other things to keep me busy.
And I like to look at it this way. The next time that there’s a State of the Union address, I don’t know where Joe Biden or Barack Obama are going to be, but you’ll find me right there on the rostrum with Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump.
Democracy is a series of choices. We Republicans have made our choice. Have we had our arguments this year? Sure, we have. You know what I call those? Signs of life, signs of a party that’s not just going through the motions, not just mouthing new words for the same, old stuff.
Meanwhile, what choice has the other party made in this incredible year filled with so many surprises? Here we are at a time when men and women in both parties so clearly, so undeniably want a big change in direction for America, a clean break from a failed system.
And what does the Democratic Party establishment offer? What is their idea of a clean break? They are offering a third Obama term brought to you by another Clinton.
And you’re supposed to be excited about that.
For a country so ready for change, it feels like we’ve been cleared for takeoff and then somebody announced we’re all going back to the gate. It’s like we’ve been on hold forever, waiting and waiting to finally talk to a real person, and somehow we’ve been sent back to the main menu.
Watch the Democratic Party convention next week, that four-day infomercial of politically correct moralizing, and let it be a reminder of all that is at stake in this election.
You can get through four days of it with a little help from the mute button, but four more years of it? Not a chance. Not a chance.
Look, the Obama years are almost over. The Clinton years are way over. 2016 is the year America moves on!
From now to November, we will hear how many different ways progressive elitists can find to talk down to the rest of America, to tell the voters that the Obama years have been good for you, that you should be grateful and, well, now, it’s Hillary’s turn.
The problem is really simple. The problem here is very simple. There is a reason people in our country are disappointed and restless. If opportunity seems like it’s been slipping away, that’s because it has. And liberal progressive ideas have done exactly nothing to help. Wages never seem to go up, the whole economy feels stuck, and millions of Americans — millions of Americans — middle-class security is now just a memory.
Progressives like to talk, like our president, like to talk forever about poverty in America. And if high-sounding talk did any good, we’d have overcome those deep problems long ago. This explains why under the most liberal president we have had so far poverty in America is worse, especially for our fellow citizens who were promised better and who need it most.
The result is a record of discarded promises, empty gestures, phony straw-man arguments, reforms put off forever, shady power plays like the one that gave us “Obamacare,” constitutional limits brushed off as nothing, and all the while dangers in the world downplayed, even as the threats go bolder and come closer.
It’s the last chapter of an old story. Progressives deliver everything except progress.
Yet, we know better than most. We know better than to think that Republicans can win only on the failures of Democrats. It still comes down to a contest of ideas, which is really good news, ladies and gentlemen, because when it’s about ideas that advantage goes to us.
Against their dreary backdrop of arrogant bureaucracies, pointless mandates, reckless borrowing, willful retreat from the world and all that progressives have in store for us, the Republican Party stands as the great enduring alternative party.
We believe in making government as Ronald Reagan said, not the distributor of gifts and privilege, but once again the protector of our liberties.
Let the other party go on making its case for more government control over every aspect of our lives, more taxes to pay, more debt to carry, more rules to follow, more judges who just make it up as they go along. We in this party, we are committed to a federal government that acts again as a servant accountable to the people, following the Constitution, and venturing not one inch beyond the consent of the governed.
We, we in this party, offer a better way for our country based on fundamentals that go back to the founding generation. We believe in a free society where aspiration and effort can make the difference in every life, where your starting point is not your destiny and where your first chance is not your only chance.
We offer a better way for America with ideas that actually work, a reformed tax code that rewards free enterprise instead of just enterprising lobbyists, a reformed health care system that operates by free choice instead of by force and doesn’t leave you answering to cold, clueless bureaucrats, a commitment to a renewed commitment to building a 21st century military and giving our veterans the care that they were promised and the care that they earned.
And we offer a better way for dealing with persistent poverty in this country, a way that shows poor Americans the world beyond liberal warehousing and check-writing, into the life everyone can find with opportunity and independence, the happiness of using your gifts and the dignity of having a job.
And you know what? None of this will happen under Hillary Clinton. Only with Donald Trump and Mike Pence do we have a chance at a better way.
And last, last point, let the other party go on and on with its constant dividing up of people, always playing one group against the other as if group identity were everything. In America, aren’t we all supposed to be and see beyond class, see beyond ethnicity or all these other lines drawn to set us apart and lock us into groups?
Real social progress is always a widening of the circle of concern and protection. It’s respect and empathy overtaking blindness and indifference. It’s understanding that by the true measure we are all neighbors and countrymen, called, each one of us, to know what is right and kind and just and to go and do likewise.
Everyone — everyone — is equal, everyone has a place. No one is written off because there is worth and goodness in every life.
Straight from the Declaration of Independence, that is the Republican ideal. And if we won’t defend it, who will?
So much — so much — that you and I care about, so many things that we stand for, in the balance in this coming election. Whatever we lack going into this campaign, we should not lack for motivation. In the plainest terms I know, it is all on the line.
So let’s act that way. Let’s act that way. Let’s use the edge we have because it is still what earns the trust and the votes.
This year of surprises and dramatic turns can end in the finest possible way when America elects a conservative governing majority. We can do this. We can earn that mandate if we don’t hold anything back, if we never lose sight of the stakes, if we never lose sight of what’s on the table.
Our candidates will be giving their all. They’ll be giving their utmost. And every one of us has got to go and do the same.
So what do you say? What do you say? What do you say that we unify this party? What do you say that we unify this party at this crucial moment when unity is everything?
Let’s take our fight to our opponents, with better ideas! Let’s get on the offensive and let’s stay there! Let’s compete in every part of America and turn out at the polls like every last vote matters because it will!
Fellow Republicans, what we have begun here, let’s see this thing through. Let’s win this thing! Let’s show America our best and nothing less!
Thank you. Thank you and God bless!
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 19, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts April 30, 2016: President Obama’s 2016 White House correspondents’ dinner speech
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
The complete transcript of President Obama’s 2016 White House correspondents’ dinner speech
Source: Washington Post, 4-30-16
[“Cups” playing as Obama walks up. Audience can hear “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone…”]
You can’t say it, but you know it is true.
Good evening everybody. It is an honor to be here at my last, and perhaps the last White House correspondents’ dinner. You all look great. The end of the Republic has never looked better.
I do apologize. I know I was a little late tonight. I was running on CPT, which stands for jokes that white people should not make. That’s a tip for you, Jeff.
Anyway, here we are, my eighth and final appearance at this unique event. And I am excited. If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans. That’s right. That’s right.
My brilliant and beautiful wife Michelle is here tonight. She looks so happy to be here. It’s called practice. It’s like learning to do three-minute planks. She makes it look easy now. But…
[For Obama’s final correspondents’ dinner, the obvious targets: Trump, Cruz and himself]
Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot and it’s anyone guess who she will be. But standing here I can’t help but be reflective and a little sentimental.
Eight years ago I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific. Eight years ago, I was a young man full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray, grizzled and just counting down the days to my death panel.
Hillary once questioned whether I would be up ready for a 3 a.m .phone call. Now, I’m awake anyway because I have to go to the bathroom. I’m up.
In fact somebody recently said to me, ‘Mr. President, you are so yesterday. Justin Trudeau has completely replaced you. He is so handsome and he’s so charming. He’s the future.’ And I said ‘Justin, just give it a rest.’ I resented that.
Meanwhile, Michelle has not aged a day. The only way you can date her in photos is by looking at me. Take a look. [Show photos over the years] Here we are in 2008. Here we are a few years later. And this one is from two weeks ago. [skelton photo from Canada dinner] So time passes.
In just six short months, I will be officially a lame duck, which means Congress now will flat out reject my authority, and Republican leaders won’t take my phone calls. And this is going to take some getting use to. It’s really gonna… It’s a curve ball. I don’t know what to do with it. Of course, in fact, for four months now congressional Republicans have been saying there are things I cannot do in my final year. Unfortunately, this dinner was not one of them.
But on everything else, it’s another story. And you know who you are, Republicans. In fact, I think we’ve got Republican senators Tim Scott and Cory Gardner. They are in the house, which reminds me … security bar the doors. Judge Merrick Garland come on out. We are going to do this right here. Right now.
It’s like the red wedding.
But it’s not just Congress. Even some foreign leaders, they’ve been looking ahead, anticipating my departure. Last week, Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face. A clear breach of protocol.
Although, while in England I did have lunch with her Majesty the Queen, took in a performance of Shakespeare, hit the links with David Cameron. Just in case anyone was debating whether I am black enough, I think that settles the debate.
I won’t lie, look, this is a tough transition. It’s hard. Key staff are now starting to leave the White House. Even reporters have left me. Savannah Guthrie, she has left the White House press corps to host the “Today” show. Norah O’Donnell left the briefing room to host ‘CBS This Morning.’ Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.
But the prospect of leaving the White House is a mixed bag. You might have heard that someone jumped the White House fence last week, but I have to give the Secret Service credit. They found Michelle and brought her back. She’s safe back at home now. It’s only nine more months, baby. Settle down.
And yet somehow, despite all this, despite the churn, in my final year my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high I was trying to decide on my major.
And here’s the thing, I haven’t really done anything differently. So it’s odd. Even my age can’t explain the rising poll numbers. What has changed nobody can figure it out. [Image of Cruz and Trump]. Puzzling.
Anyway. In this last year, I do have more appreciation for those who have been with me on this amazing ride. Like one of our finest public servants, Joe Biden. God bless him. I love that guy. I love Joe Biden. I really do. And I want to thank him for his friendship, for his counsel, for always giving it to me straight, for not shooting anybody in the face. Thank you, Joe.
Also, I would be remiss. Let’s give it up for our host, Larry Wilmore. Also known as one of the two black guys who’s not Jon Stewart. You’re the South African guy, right? I love Larry. And his parents are here, who are from Evanston, which is great town. I also would like to acknowledge some of the award winning reporters that we have with us here tonight. Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber. Thank you all for everything you have done. I’m just joking. As you know, “Spotlight” is a film, a movie about investigative journalists with the resources and the autonomy to chase down the truth and hold the powerful accountable. Best fantasy film since “Star Wars.”
Look. That was maybe a cheap shot. I understand the news business is tough these days. It keeps changing all the time. Every year at this dinner somebody makes a joke about Buzzfeed, for example, changing the media landscape. And every year The Washington Post laughs a little bit less hard. Kind of a silence there. Especially at the Washington Post table.
GOP chairman Reince Priebus is here as well. Glad to see that you feel you have earned a night off. Congratulations on all your success, the republican party, the nomination process. It’s all going great. Keep it up.
Kendall Jenner is also here. And we had a chance to meet her backstage. She seems like a very nice, young woman. I’m not exactly sure what she does, but I’m told that my twitter mentions are about to go through the roof.
Helen Mirren is here tonight. I don’t even have a joke here, I just think Helen Mirren is awesome. She’s awesome.
Sitting at the same table I see Mike Bloomberg. Mike, a combative, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary and it is not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it’s not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all Mike was a big city mayor. He knows policy in depth. And he’s actually worth the amount of money that he says he is.
What an election season. For example, we’ve got the bright new face of the Democratic party here tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders. Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or, to put in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.
A lot of folks have been surprised by the Bernie phenomenon, especially his appeal to young people. But not me. I get it. Just recently a young person came up to me and said she was sick of politicians standing in the way of her dreams. As if we were actually going to let Malia go to Burning Man this year. Was not going to happen. Bernie might have let her go. Not us.
I am hurt though, Bernie, that you have been distancing yourself little from me. I mean that’s just not something that you do to your comrade.
Bernie’s slogan has helped his campaign catch fire among young people. ‘Feel the Bern.’ ‘Feel the Bern.’ That’s a good slogan. Hillary’s slogan has not had the same effect. Let’s see this. [image of a boulder on a hill with the slogan “Trudge up the Hill”]
Look, I’ve said how much I admire Hillary’s toughness, her smarts, her policy chops, her experience. You’ve got admit it though, Hillary trying appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook. ‘Dear America, did you get my poke? Is it appearing on your wall? I’m not sure I’m using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary.’ It’s not entirely persuasive.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, things are a little more, how shall we say this, a little more loose. Just look at the confusion over the invitations to tonight’s dinner. Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish. But instead, a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan. That’s not an option people. Steak or fish. You may not like steak or fish, but that’s your choice.
Meanwhile, some candidates aren’t polling high enough to qualify for their own joke tonight. [image of Kasich eating]. The rules were well established ahead of time.
And then there’s Ted Cruz. Ted had a tough week. He went to Indiana. Hoosier country. Stood on a basketball court and called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon. Baseball sticks. Football hats. But sure, I’m the foreign one.
Well let me conclude tonight on a more serious note. I want thank the Washington press corps. I want to thank Carol for all that you do. The free press is central to our democracy and, nah, I’m just kidding! You know I’m going to talk about Trump. Come on. We weren’t just going to stop there. Come on.
Although I am a little hurt that he’s not here tonight. We had so much fun that last time, And it is surprising. You’ve got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras. And he says no. Is this dinner too tacky for the Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home eating a Trump steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What’s he doin’?
The republican establishment is incredulous that he is their most likely nominee. Incredulous. Shocking. They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.
And there is one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable and that’s closing Guantanamo because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground. Alright, that is probably enough. I mean I’ve got more material. No, no, no.
I don’t want to spend too much time on The Donald. Following your lead, I want to show some restraint. Because I think we can all agree that from the start he’s gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. Ha. I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost and now we are praying that Cleveland makes it through July. Mmm mmm mmn. Hmmm.
As for me and Michelle, we’ve decided to stay in D.C. for a couple more years. Thank you. This way our youngest daughter can finish up high school. Michelle can stay closer to her plot of carrots. She’s already making plans to see them every day. Take a look [image of Michelle].
But our decision has actually presented a bit of a dilemma because traditionally presidents don’t stick around after they’re done. And it’s something that I’ve been brooding about a little bit. Take a look…
There you go. I am still waiting for all of you to respond to my invitation to connect to LinkedIn. But I know you have jobs to do which is what really brings us here tonight.
I know that there are times that we’ve had differences and that’s inherent in our institutional roles. That is true of every president and his press corps. But we’ve always shared the same goal to root our public discourse in the truth. To open the doors of this democracy. To do whatever we can to make our country and our world more free and more just.
And I’ve always appreciated the role that you have all played as equal partners in reaching these goals. Our free press is why we once again recognize the real journalists who uncover the horrifying scandal and brought some measure of justice for thousands of victims around the world. They are here with us tonight: Sacha Pfeiffer, Mike Rezendes, Walter Robinson, Matt Caroll and Ben Bradlee Jr. Please give them a big round of applause.
A free press is why, once again, we honor Jason Rezaian, as Carol noted. Last time this year we spoke of Jason’s courage as he endured the isolation of an Iranian prison. This year we see that courage in the flesh, and it’s a living testament to the very idea of a free press and a reminder of the rising level of danger and political intimidation and the physical threats faced by reporters overseas.
And I can make this commitment that as long as I hold this office my administration will continue to fight for the release of American journalists held against their will. And we will not stop until they see the same freedom as Jason had.
At home and abroad journalists like all of you engage in the dogged pursuit of informing citizens and holding leaders accountable, and making our government of the people possible. And it’s an enormous responsibility. And I realize it’s an enormous challenge at a time when the economics of the business sometimes incentivizes speed over depth, and when controversy and conflict are what most immediately attract readers and viewers. The good news is there are so many of you that are pushing against those trends and as a citizen of this great democracy, I am grateful for that.
For this is also a time around the world when some of the fundamental ideals of liberal democracies are under attack and when notions of objectively and of a free press and of facts and of evidence are trying to be undermined or in some cases ignored entirely. And in such a climate it’s not enough just to give people a megaphone. And that’s why your power and your responsibility to dig and to question and to counter distortions and untruths is more important than even ever.
Taking a stand on behalf of what is true does not require you shedding your objectivity. In fact, it is the essence of good journalism. It affirms the idea that the only way we can build consensus, the only way that we can move forward as a country, the only way we can help the world mend itself is by agreeing on a baseline of facts when it comes to the challenges that confront us all. So this night is a testament to all of you who have devoted your lives to that idea, who push to shine a light on the truth every single day. So, I want to close my final White House correspondents’ dinner by just saying thank you. I’m very proud of what you’ve done. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with you to strengthen our democracy. With that I just have two more words to say: Obama out. [Drops mic].
Posted by bonniekgoodman on April 30, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts March 23, 2016: Speaker Paul Ryan’s Speech on the State of American Politics
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
FULL TEXT: Speaker Ryan on the State of American Politics
“And we always held ourselves to a higher standard of decorum. We treated each other with respect. We disagreed—often fiercely so—but we disagreed without being disagreeable. I speak of this in the past tense only because I no longer serve here. But it almost sounds like I’m speaking of another time, doesn’t it? It sounds like a scene unfamiliar to your generation.
“Looking around at what’s taking place in politics today, it is easy to get disheartened. How many of you find yourself just shaking your head at what you see from both sides? You know, I see myself in each of you. I came here as a curious college intern. Trying to get a sense of everything. Trying to figure out where to take my life. I would always ask older, more experienced people: what do you know that you wished you knew when you were my age?
“This is my answer to that. Here is what I know now that I want you to know—that you cannot see yourself today. And that is not just a lesson for young minds, but a message for all Americans. Our political discourse—both the kind we see on TV and the kind we experience among each other—did not use to be this bad and it does not have to be this way. Now, a little skepticism is healthy. But when people distrust politics, they come to distrust institutions. They lose faith in their government, and the future too. We can acknowledge this. But we don’t have to accept it. And we cannot enable it either.
“My dad used to say, if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem. So I have made it a mission of my Speakership to raise our gaze and aim for a brighter horizon. Instead of talking about what politics is today, I want to talk about what politics can be. I want to talk about what our country can be…about what our Founders envisioned it to be. America is the only nation founded an idea—not an identity. That idea is the notion that the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life. Our rights are natural. They come from God, not government.
“While it was a beautiful idea, it had never been tried before. Early on, as our founders struggled to establish a suitable order, they decided that we would not maintain this idea by force. In the first Federalist paper, Alexander Hamilton wrote that “in politics,” it is “absurd to aim at making” converts “by fire and sword.” Instead, we would govern ourselves, with the people’s consent. Again, there was no manual for how to do this. That’s why they call it the American experiment.
“So they made each other—and those who came after—take an oath to uphold the Constitution. And every generation since has inherited this responsibility. Leaders with different visions and ideas have come and gone; parties have risen and fallen; majorities and White Houses won and lost. But the way we govern endures: through debate, not disorder. This is one thing about our country that makes it the greatest on earth.
“I must admit, I didn’t always find this idea so exciting…As I said, I came to Washington unsure of what I was going to do with my life. And then I ended up working for a guy named Jack Kemp. Jack once played quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. He went on to represent the people of Western New York in the House in the 1970s and 80s. He served in the Cabinet under President George H.W. Bush. And, like me, he was once our party’s nominee for vice president.
“But I first met Jack exactly where you’d expect…at Tortilla Coast. It’s true…I was waiting on his table. I didn’t bother him that day, but I told a friend I’d love to have the chance to work for him. And, as luck would have it, such an opening soon arose. The thing about Jack was, he was an optimist all the way. He refused to accept that any part of America–or the American Idea–could be written off. Here was a conservative willing—no, eager—to go to America’s bleakest communities and talk about how free enterprise could lift people out of poverty. These were areas that hadn’t seen a Republican leader come through in years, if ever.
“I had the chance to accompany Jack on some of these visits. I saw how people took to him. I saw how he listened, and took new lessons from each experience. He found common cause with poverty fighters on the ground. Instead of a sense of drift, I began to feel a sense of purpose. Jack inspired me to devote my professional life to public policy. It became a vocation.
“Ideas, passionately promoted and put to the test—that’s what politics can be.That’s what our country can be. It can be a confident America, where we have a basic faith in politics and leaders. It can be a place where we’ve earned that faith. All of us as leaders can hold ourselves to the highest standards of integrity and decency. Instead of playing to your anxieties, we can appeal to your aspirations. Instead of playing the identity politics of “our base” and “their base,” we unite people around ideas and principles. And instead of being timid, we go bold.
“We don’t resort to scaring you, we dare to inspire you. We don’t just oppose someone or something. We propose a clear and compelling alternative. And when we do that, we don’t just win the argument. We don’t just win your support. We win your enthusiasm. We win hearts and minds. We win a mandate to do what needs to be done to protect the American Idea.
“In a confident America, we also have a basic faith in one another. We question each other’s ideas—vigorously—but we don’t question each other’s motives. If someone has a bad idea, we don’t think they’re a bad person. We just think they have a bad idea. People with different ideas are not traitors. They are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our coworkers, our fellow citizens. Sometimes they’re our friends. Sometimes they’re even our own flesh and blood, right? We all know someone we love who disagrees with us politically, or votes differently.
“But in a confident America, we aren’t afraid to disagree with each other. We don’t lock ourselves in an echo chamber, where we take comfort in the dogmas and opinions we already hold. We don’t shut down on people—and we don’t shut people down. If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don’t insult them into agreeing with us. We try to persuade them. We test their assumptions. And while we’re at it, we test our own assumptions too.
“I’m certainly not going to stand here and tell you I have always met this standard. There was a time when I would talk about a difference between “makers” and “takers” in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong. “Takers” wasn’t how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap, just trying to take care of her family. Most people don’t want to be dependent. And to label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong. I shouldn’t castigate a large group of Americans to make a point.
“So I stopped thinking about it that way—and talking about it that way. But I didn’t come out and say all this to be politically correct. I was just wrong. And of course, there are still going to be times when I say things I wish I hadn’t. There are still going to be times when I follow the wrong impulse.
“Governing ourselves was never meant to be easy. This has always been a tough business. And when passions flair, ugliness is sometimes inevitable. But we shouldn’t accept ugliness as the norm. We should demand better from ourselves and from one another. We should think about the great leaders that have bestowed upon us the opportunity to live the American Idea. We should honor their legacy. We should build that more confident America.
“This, as much as anything, is what makes me an optimist. It is knowing that ideas can inspire a country and help people. Long before I worked for him, Jack Kemp had a tax plan that he was incredibly passionate about. He wasn’t even on the Ways and Means Committee and Republicans were deep in the minority back then. So the odds of it going anywhere seemed awfully low. But he was like a dog with a bone. He took that plan to any audience he could get in front of. He pushed it so hard that he eventually inspired our party’s nominee for president—Ronald Reagan—to adopt it as his own. And in 1981 the Kemp-Roth bill was signed into law, lowering tax rates, spurring growth, and putting millions of Americans back to work.
“All it took was someone willing to put policy on paper and promote it passionately. This is the basic concept behind the policy agenda that House Republicans are building right now. As leaders, we have an obligation to put our best ideas forward—no matter the consequences. With so much at stake, the American people deserve a clear picture of what we believe. Personalities come and go, but principles endure. Ideas endure, ready to inspire generations yet to be born.
“That’s the thing about politics. We think of it in terms of this vote or that election. But it can be so much more than that. Politics can be a battle of ideas, not insults. It can be about solutions. It can be about making a difference. It can be about always striving to do better. That’s what it can be and what it should be. This is the system our Founders envisioned. It’s messy. It’s complicated. It’s infuriating at times. And it’s a beautiful thing too. Thank you all for being here today.”
– See more at: http://www.speaker.gov/press-release/full-text-speaker-ryan-state-american-politics#sthash.g3GUP1yX.dpuf
Posted by bonniekgoodman on March 23, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts January 8, 2016: President Barack Obama vetoes GOP Congress’ ObamaCare repeal the Reconciliation Act
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Veto Message from the President — H.R. 3762
Source: WH, 1-8-16
TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 3762, which provides for reconciliation pursuant to section 2002 of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2016, herein referred to as the Reconciliation Act. This legislation would not only repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, but would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America. The Affordable Care Act includes a set of fairer rules and stronger consumer protections that have made health care coverage more affordable, more attainable, and more patient centered. And it is working. About 17.6 million Americans have gained health care coverage as the law’s coverage provisions have taken effect. The Nation’s uninsured rate now stands at its lowest level ever, and demand for Marketplace coverage during December 2015 was at an all-time high. Health care costs are lower than expected when the law was passed, and health care quality is higher — with improvements in patient safety saving an estimated 87,000 lives. Health care has changed for the better, setting this country on a smarter, stronger course.
The Reconciliation Act would reverse that course. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the legislation would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million after 2017. The Council of Economic Advisers estimates that this reduction in health care coverage could mean, each year, more than 900,000 fewer people getting all their needed care, more than 1.2 million additional people having trouble paying other bills due to higher medical costs, and potentially more than 10,000 additional deaths. This legislation would cost millions of hard-working middle-class families the security of affordable health coverage they deserve. Reliable health care coverage would no longer be a right for everyone: it would return to being a privilege for a few.
The legislation’s implications extend far beyond those who would become uninsured. For example, about 150 million Americans with employer-based insurance would be at risk of higher premiums and lower wages. And it would cause the cost of health coverage for people buying it on their own to skyrocket.
The Reconciliation Act would also effectively defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood uses both Federal and non-federal funds to provide a range of important preventive care and health services, including health screenings, vaccinations, and check-ups to millions of men and women who visit their health centers annually. Longstanding Federal policy already prohibits the use of Federal funds for abortions, except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the woman would be endangered. By eliminating Federal Medicaid funding for a major provider of health care, H.R. 3762 would limit access to health care for men, women, and families across the Nation, and would disproportionately impact low-income individuals.
Republicans in the Congress have attempted to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act over 50 times. Rather than refighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle-class families, and create new jobs. Because of the harm this bill would cause to the health and financial security of millions of Americans, it has earned my veto.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 8, 2016
Full Text Political Transcripts October 29, 2015: Paul Ryan’s Remarks to the House of Representatives after his Election as Speaker of the House Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Speaker Ryan’s Remarks to the House of Representatives
Thank you, Madam Leader. Before I begin, I want to thank the family and friends who flew in from Wisconsin and from all over to be here today. In the gallery, I have my mom, Betty; my sister, Janet; my brothers, Stan and Tobin; and more relatives than I can count. Most important of all, I want to recognize my wife, Janna, and our three kids: Liza, Charlie, and Sam.
I also want to thank Speaker Boehner. For almost five years, he led this House. And for nearly 25 years, he served it. Not many people can match his accomplishments: the offices he held, the laws he wrote. But what really sets John apart is he’s a man of character—a true class act. He is, without question, the gentleman from Ohio. So please join me in saying, one last time, “Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”
Now I know how he felt. It’s not till you hold this gavel and stand in this spot and look out and see all 435 members of the House—as if all of America was sitting right in front of you. It’s not till then that you feel it: the weight of responsibility, the gravity of the moment.
And standing here, I cannot help but think of something Harry Truman once said. The day after Franklin Roosevelt died and Truman became president, he told a group of reporters: “If you ever pray, pray for me now. . . . When they told me yesterday what had happened, I felt like the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”
We all should feel that way. A lot is on our shoulders. So if you ever pray, pray for each other— Republicans for Democrats, Democrats for Republicans. And I don’t mean pray for a conversion. Pray for a deeper understanding, because—when you’re up here, you see it so clearly—wherever you come from, whatever you believe, we are all in the same boat.
I never thought I’d be the speaker. But early in my life, I wanted to serve in the House. I thought the place was exhilarating—because here, you could make a difference. If you had a good idea and worked hard, you could make it happen. You could improve people’s lives. To me, the House represented the best of America: the boundless opportunity to do good.
But let’s be frank: The House is broken. We are not solving problems. We are adding to them. And I am not interested in laying blame. We are not settling scores. We are wiping the slate clean. Neither the members nor the people are satisfied with how things are going. We need to make some changes, starting with how the House does business.
We need to let every member contribute—not once they have earned their stripes, but right now. I come at this job as a two-time committee chair. The committees should retake the lead in drafting all major legislation. If you know the issue, you should write the bill. Open up the process. Let people participate. And they might change their tune. A neglected minority will gum up the works. A respected minority will work in good faith. Instead of trying to stop the majority, they might try to become the majority.
In other words, we need to return to regular order. Now, I know that sounds like process. But it’s actually a matter of principle. We are the body closest to the people. Every two years, we face the voters—and sometimes face the music. But we do not echo the people. We represent them. We are supposed to study up and do the homework that they cannot do. So when we do not follow regular order—when we rush to pass bills a lot of us do not understand—we are not doing our job. Only a fully functioning House can truly represent the people.
And if there were ever a time for us to step up, this would be that time. America does not feel strong anymore because the working people of America do not feel strong anymore. I’m talking about the people who mind the store and grow the food and walk the beat and pay the taxes and raise the family. They do not sit in this House. They do not have fancy titles. But they are the people who make this country work, and this House should work for them.
Here’s the problem. They’re working hard. They’re paying a lot. They are trying to do right by their families. And they are going nowhere fast. They never get a raise. They never get a break. But the bills keep piling up—and the taxes and the debt. They are working harder than ever to get ahead. Yet they are falling further behind. And they feel robbed—cheated of their birthright. They are not asking for any favors. They just want a fair chance. And they are losing faith that they will ever get it. Then they look at Washington, and all they see is chaos.
What a relief to them it would be if we finally got our act together—what a weight off their shoulders. How reassuring it would be if we actually fixed the tax code, put patients in charge of their health care, grew our economy, strengthened our military, lifted people out of poverty, and paid down the debt. At this point, nothing could be more inspiring than a job well done. Nothing could stir the heart more than real, concrete results.
The cynics will scoff and say it’s not possible. But you better believe we are going to try. We will not duck the tough issues. We will take them head on. We are going to do all we can so working people get their strength back and people not working get their lives back. No more favors for the few. Opportunity for all—that is our motto.
I often talk about the need for a vision. I’m not sure I ever said what I meant. We solve problems here—yes. We create a lot of them too. But at bottom, we vindicate a way of life. We show by our work that free people can govern themselves. They can solve their own problems. They can make their own decisions. They can deliberate, collaborate, and get the job done. We show self-government is not only more efficient and more effective; it is more fulfilling. In fact, we show it is that struggle, that hard work, the very achievement itself that makes us free.
That is what we do here. And we will not always agree—not all of us, not all of the time. But we should not hide our disagreements. We should embrace them. We have nothing to fear from honest differences honestly stated. If you have ideas, let’s hear them. I believe a greater clarity between us can lead to a greater charity among us.
And there is every reason to have hope. When the first speaker took the gavel, he looked out at a room of 30 people, representing a nation of 3 million. Today, as I look out at you, we represent a nation of 300 million. So when I hear people say America does not have it—we are done, we are spent—I do not believe it. I believe, with every fiber of my being, we can renew the America Idea. Now, our task is to make us all believe.
My friends, you have done me a great honor. The people of this country have done all of us a great honor. Now, let’s prove ourselves worthy of it. Let’s seize the moment. Let’s rise to the occasion. And when we are done, let us say we left the people—all the people—more united, happy, and free. Thank you.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 29, 2015
Full Text Political Transcripts October 29, 2015: Speaker John Boehner’s Farewell Address to the House of Representatives Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Speaker John Boehner’s Farewell Address: This, Too, Can Really Happen To You
My colleagues, I rise today to inform you that I will resign as Speaker of the House effective upon the election of my successor.
I will also resign as Representative of Ohio’s Eighth District at the end of this month.
I leave with no regrets or burdens. If anything, I leave as I started – just a regular guy humbled by the chance to do a big job.
That’s what I’m most proud of – that I’m still just me…
But before I go, let me just express what an honor it is been to serve with all of you.
The people’s House is, in my view, the great embodiment of the American idea.
Everyone comes from somewhere and is on some mission.
I come from a part of the world where we’re used to working.
As far back as I can remember, I was working…going back to when I was eight or nine, throwing newspapers, working at my dad’s bar on Saturdays from 5 am – 2 pm for 2 dollars…TOTAL.
I never thought about it as coming up the easy way or the hard way.
It’s just the Cincinnati way.
Our city takes its name from a great Roman general, Cincinnatus – a farmer who answered the call of his nation to lead, then surrendered his power and returned to his plow.
For me, it wasn’t a farm – it was a small business.
And it wasn’t so much a calling as it was a mission: to strive for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government in Washington, DC.
How did we do?
Well, here are some facts….
For the first time in nearly 20 years, we have made real entitlement reforms, saving trillions over the long term.
We have protected 99 percent of Americans from tax increases.
We are on track to save taxpayers $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years – the most significant spending reductions in modern history.
We have banned earmarks altogether.
We have protected this institution, and made it more open to the people.
And every day in this capital city, hundreds of kids from the toughest of neighborhoods are finally getting a decent education.
I am proud of these things.
But the mission is not complete, and the truth is, it may never be…
One thing I came to realize is that this battle over the size and scope of government has been going on for more than 200 years.
And the forces of the status quo go to an awful lot of trouble to prevent change. Real change takes time.
That’s certainly true for all the things I just mentioned.
Yes, freedom makes all things possible.
But patience is what makes all things real.
So believe in the long, slow struggle.
Believe in this country’s ability to meet her challenges, and lead the world.
Believe in the decency of people to come together and do what can be done.
And remember, you can’t do a big job alone, especially this one.
I’m grateful to my family…
I’m grateful to my colleagues…
I’m grateful to all the people who work in this institution … you’ve made me proud every day.
I’m grateful to my staff … I’ve always told them, you never leave Boehnerland, and that certainly goes for me too.
And I’m especially grateful to all my constituents and volunteers over the years…
That includes a student at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio who was putting up signs for me during one of my very first campaigns in the early 90s.
His name was Paul Ryan.
I don’t think he knew how to pronounce my name…
But, as Cincinnatus understood, there’s a difference between being asked to do something and being called to do something.
Paul is being called to serve, and I know he will serve that calling with grace and energy.
I wish him, and his family, all the best.
My colleagues, I’ve described my life as a chase for the American Dream.
That chase began at the bottom of a hill just off the main drag in Reading, Ohio.
At the top was a small house with a big family … a shining city in its own right.
The hill had twists. And it had turns. And even a few tears … nothing wrong with that.
But let me tell you, it was all just perfect.
Never forget, we are the luckiest people on the face of the Earth.
In America, you can do anything if you’re willing to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices.
If you falter – and you will – you can just dust yourself off and keep on going.
Because hope always springs eternal.
And if you just do the right things for the right reasons, good things will happen.
And this, too, can really happen to you…
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 29, 2015
Full Text Political Transcripts October 23, 2015: Paul Ryan’s Letter Announcing Candidacy for Speaker of the House Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Paul Ryan’s Letter Announcing Candidacy for Speaker of the House
Source: WaPo, 10-22-15
The full letter:
Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about our country, and it’s clear to me that we’re in a very serious moment. Working families continue to fall behind, and they are losing faith in the American Idea: the belief that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead. At the same time, a weaker America has led to a more dangerous world. Our friends and rivals alike wonder whether we will pull ourselves out of this stupor.
Instead of rising to the occasion, Washington is falling short—including the House of Representatives. We are not solving the country’s problems; we are only adding to them.
But now, we have an opportunity to turn the page, to start with a clean slate, and to rebuild what has been lost. We can make the House a more open and inclusive body—one where every member can contribute to the legislative process. We can rally House Republicans around a bold agenda that will tackle the country’s problems head on. And we can show the country what a commonsense conservative agenda looks like.
That’s why I’m actually excited for this moment. I’ve spoken with many of you over the past few days, and I can sense the hunger in our conference to get to work. I know many of you want to show the country how to fix our tax code, how to rebuild our military, how to strengthen the safety net, and how to lift people out of poverty. I know you’re willing to work hard and get it done, and I think this moment is ripe for real reform.
That’s because, whatever our differences, we’re all conservatives. We were elected to defend the constitution. We share the same principles. We all believe America is the land of opportunity—the place where you should be able to go as far as your talents and hard work will take you. We all believe in empowering every person to realize his or her potential. And we have the know-how to apply these principles to the problems of today.
I never thought I’d be speaker. But I pledged to you that if I could be a unifying figure, then I would serve—I would go all in. After talking with so many of you, and hearing your words of encouragement, I believe we are ready to move forward as one, united team. And I am ready and eager to be our speaker.
This is just the beginning of our work. There is a long road ahead. So let’s get started.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 23, 2015
Full Text Political Transcripts October 22, 2015: Hillary Clinton’s Clinton testimony before House committee on Benghazi Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Transcript: Clinton testifies before House committee on Benghazi
GOWDY: Good morning. The committee will come to order.
The chair notes the presence of a quorum.
Good morning. Welcome, Madam Secretary. Welcome to each of you. This is a public hearing of the Benghazi Select Committee.
Just a couple of quick administrative matters before we start.
Madam Secretary, there are predetermined breaks, but I want to make it absolutely clear we can take a break for any reason or for no reason. If you or anyone, just simply alert me, then we will take a break and it can be for any reason or for no reason.
To our guests, we are happy to have you here. The witness deserves to hear the questions and the members deserve to hear the answers. So proper decorum must be observed at all times — no reaction to questions or answers, no disruptions. Some committees take an incremental approach to decorum. I do not. This is your one and only notice.
Madam Secretary, the ranking member and I will give opening statements and then you will be recognized for your opening statement. And then after that, the members will alternate from one side to the other. And because you have already been sworn, we will go straight to your opening. So I will now recognize myself and then recognize Mr. Cummings, and then you, Madam Secretary.
Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods served this country with courage and with honor. And they were killed under circumstances that most of us could never imagine. Terrorists poured through the front gate of an American facility, attacking people and property with machine guns, mortars, and fire. It is important that we remember how these four men died. It is equally important that we remember how these four men lived and why.
They were more than four images on a television screen. They were husbands and fathers and sons and brothers and family and friends. They were Americans who believed in service and sacrifice. Many people speak wistfully of a better world, but do little about it. These four went out and actually tried to make it better and it cost them their lives.
So we know what they gave us. What do we owe them?
GOWDY: Justice for those that killed them. We owe their families our everlasting gratitude, respect. We owe them and each other the truth — the truth about why we were in Libya, the truth about what we were doing in Libya, the truth about the escalating violence in Libya before we were attacked and these four men were killed, the truth about requests for additional security, the truth about requests for additional personnel, the truth about requests for additional equipment, the truth about where and why our military was positioned as it was on the anniversary of 9/11, the truth about what was happening and being discussed in Washington while our people were under attack, the truth about what led to the attacks, and the truth about what our government told the American people after the attacks.
Why were there so many requests for more security personnel and equipment, and why were those requests denied in Washington? Why did the State Department compound and facility not even come close to meeting proper security specifications? What policies were we pursuing in Libya that required a physical presence in spite of the escalating violence?
Who in Washington was aware of the escalating violence? What precautions, if any, were taken on the anniversary of 9/11? What happened in Washington after the first attack? And what was our response to that attack?
What did the military do or not do? What did our leaders in Washington do or not do, and when? Why was the American public given such divergent accounts of what caused these attacks, and why is it so hard to get information from the very government these four men represented, served and sacrificed for?
Even after an Accountability Review Board and a half dozen congressional investigations, these and other questions still lingered. These questions linger, because previous investigations were thorough. These questions lingered because those previous investigations were narrow in scope, and either incapable or unwilling to access the facts and evidence necessary to answer all relevant questions.
So the House of Representatives, including some Democrats I hasten to add, asked this committee to write the final accounting of what happened in Benghazi. This committee is the first committee to review more than 50,000 pages of documents, because we insisted that they be produced. This committee is the first committee to demand access to more eyewitnesses, because serious investigations talk to as many eyewitnesses as possible. This committee is the first committee to thoroughly and individually interview scores of other witnesses, many of them for the first time. This committee is the first committee to review thousands of pages of documents from top State Department personnel. This committee is the first committee to demand access to relevant documents from the CIA, the FBI, the Department Of Defense and even the White House.
This committee is the first committee to demand access to the e- mails to and from Ambassador Chris Stevens. How could an investigation possibly be considered serious without reviewing the e- mails of the person most knowledgeable about Libya?
This committee is the first committee, the only committee, to uncover the fact that Secretary Clinton exclusively used personnel e- mail on her own personal server for official business and kept the public record, including e-mails about Benghazi and Libya, in her own custody and control for almost two years after she left office.
You will hear a lot today about the Accountability Review Board. Secretary Clinton has mentioned it more than 70 times in her previous testimony before Congress. But when you hear about the ARB, you should know the State Department leadership hand picked the members of the ARB.
The ARB never interviewed secretary Clinton. The ARB never reviewed her e-mails. And Secretary Clinton’s top adviser was allowed to review and suggest changes to the ARB before the public ever saw it. There’s no transcript of ARB interviews. So, it’s impossible to mow whether all relevant questions were asked and answered. Because there’s no transcript, it is also impossible to cite the ARB interviews with any particularity at all.
That is not independent. That is not accountability. That is not a serious investigation. You will hear there were previous congressional investigations into Benghazi. And that is true. It should make you wonder why those investigations failed to interview so many witnesses and access so many documents.
If those previous congressional investigations were really serious and thorough, how did they miss Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails? If those previous investigations were serious and thorough, how did they miss Secretary Clinton’s e-mails? If those congressional investigations really were serious and thorough, why did they fail to interview dozens of key State Department witnesses, including agents on the ground who experienced the attacks firsthand?
GOWDY: Just last month, three years after Benghazi, top aides finally returned documents to the State Department. A month ago, this committee received 1,500 new pages of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails related to Libya and Benghazi, three years after the attacks.
A little over two weeks ago, this committee received nearly 1,400 pages of Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails, three years after the attacks. It is impossible to conduct a serious fact-centric investigation without access to the documents from the former Secretary of State, the ambassador who knew more about Libya than anybody else and testimony from witnesses who survived the attacks.
Madam Secretary, I understand there are people frankly in both parties who have suggested that this investigation is about you. Let me assure you it is not. And let me assure you why it is not. This investigation is about four people who were killed representing our country on foreign soil.
It is about what happened before, during and after the attacks that killed them. It is about what this country owes to those who risk their lives to serve it. And it is about the fundamental obligation of government to tell the truth always to the people that it purports to represent.
Madam Secretary, not a single member of this committee signed up to investigate you or your e-mail. We signed up to investigate and therefore honor the lives of four people that we sent into a dangerous country to represent us. And to do everything we can to prevent it from happening to others. Our committee has interviewed half a 100 witnesses. Not a single one of them has been named Clinton until today.
You were the secretary of state for this country at all relevant times. So, of course, the committee is going to want to talk to you. You are an important witness. You are one important witness among half a hundred important witnesses. And I do understand you wanted to come sooner than today. So let me be clear why that did not happen.
You had an unusual e-mail arrangement which meant the State Department could not produce your e-mails to us. You made exclusive use of personal e-mail and a personal server. And when you left the State Department, you kept the public record to yourself for almost two years. And it was you and your attorneys who decided what to return and what to delete. Those decisions were your decisions, not our decisions. It was only in March of this year we learned of this e-mail arrangement. And since we learned of this e-mail arrangement, we have interviewed dozens of witnesses, only one of whom was solely related to your e-mail arrangement. And that was the shortest interview of all, because that witness invoked his fifth amendment privilege against incrimination.
Making sure the public record is complete is what we serious investigations do. It’s important and remains important that this committee have access to all of Ambassador Stevens’ e-mails, the e- mails of senior leaders and witnesses and it is important to gain access to all of your e-mails, Madam Secretary.
Your e-mails are no less or no more important than the e-mails of anyone else. It just took us a little bit longer to get them and it garnered a little more attention in the process. I want you to take note during this hearing how many times congressional Democrats call on this administration to make long awaited documents available to us. They won’t.
Take note of how many witnesses congressional Democrats ask us to schedule for interview. They won’t. We would be closer to finding out what happened and writing the final definitive report if Democrats on this committee had helped us just a little bit pursue the facts. But if the Democrats on this committee had their way, dozens of witnesses never would have been interviewed, your public record would still be private.
Thousands of documents would never be accessed and we wouldn’t have the e-mails of our own ambassador. That may be smart politics, but it is a lousy way to run a serious investigation.
There are certain characteristics that make our country unique in the annals of history. We are the greatest experiment in self- governance the world has ever known, and part of that self-governance comes self-scrutiny, even of the highest officials.
GOWDY: Our country is strong enough to handle the truth and our fellow citizens expect us to pursue the truth wherever the facts take us.
So this committee is going to do what we pledged to do and what should have been done, frankly, a long time ago, which is interview all relevant witnesses, examine all relevant evidence, and access all relevant documents. And we’re going to pursue the truth in a manner worthy of the memory of the four people who lost their lives and worthy of the respect of our fellow citizens.
And we are going to write that final definitive accounting of what happened in Benghazi. We would like to do it with your help and the help of our Democrat colleagues, but make no mistake, we are going to do it nonetheless. Because understanding what happened in Benghazi goes to the heart of who we are as a country and the promises we make to those that we send into harm’s way. They deserve the truth. They deserve the whole truth. They deserve nothing but the truth. The people we work for deserve the truth. The friends and family of the four who lost their lives deserve the truth.
We’re going to find the truth because there is no statute of limitations on the truth.
With that, I would recognize my friend my Maryland.
CUMMINGS: The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Madam Secretary, I want to thank you very much for being here today to testify before Congress on this very important issue. This is your third time. This week, our chairman, Mr. Gowdy, was interviewed in a lengthy media profile. During his interview, he complained that he was, and I quote, he “has an impossible job.” That’s what the chairman said — “impossible job.” He said it’s impossible to conduct a serious, fact-centric investigation in such a, quote, “political environment.”
I have great respect for the chairman, but on this score he is absolutely wrong. In fact, it has been done by his own Republican colleagues in the House on this very issue, Benghazi. The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee conducted an extensive, bipartisan, two-year investigation and issued a detailed report.
The Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Homeland Security Committee also conducted a bipartisan investigation. Those bipartisan efforts respected and honored the memories of the four brave Americans who gave their lives in Benghazi: Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
The problem is that the Republican caucus did not like the answers they got from those investigations, so they set up this select committee with no rules, no deadline, and an unlimited budget. And they set them loose, Madam Secretary, because you’re running for president.
Clearly, it is possible to conduct a serious, bipartisan investigation. What is impossible is for any reasonable person to continue denying that Republicans are squandering millions of taxpayer dollars on this abusive effort to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
In the chairman’s interview, he tried to defend against this criticism by attempting to cast himself as the victim. And he complained about attacks on the credibility of the select committee.
CUMMINGS: His argument would be more compelling if Republicans weren’t leading the charge. As we all know, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Speaker Boehner’s second in command and the chairman’s close friend admitted that they established the select committee to drive down Secretary Clinton’s poll numbers. Democrats didn’t say that. The second in command in the House said that, a Republican.
Republican Congressman Richard Hanna said the Select Committee was, quote, “designed — designed to go after Secretary Clinton.” And one of the chairman’s own, hand-picked investigators, a self- proclaimed conservative Republican, charged that he was fired in part for not going along with these plans to, quote, “hyper-focus on Hillary Clinton,” end of quote.
These stark admissions reflect exactly what we have seen inside the Select Committee for the past year. Let’s just look at the facts. Since January, Republicans have canceled every single hearing on our schedule for the entire year except for this one, Secretary Clinton. They also canceled numerous interviews that they had planned with the Defense Department and the CIA officials.
Instead of doing that, they said they were going — what they were going to do, Republicans zeroed in on Secretary Clinton, her speech writers, her I.T. staffers and her campaign officials.
This is what the Republicans did, not the Democrats. When Speaker Boehner established this Select Committee, he justified it by arguing that it would, quote, “cross jurisdictional lines.” I assume he meant we would focus on more than just secretary of State.
But, Madam Secretary, you are sitting there by yourself. The Secretary Of Defense is not on your left. The director of the CIA is not on your right. That’s because Republicans abandoned their own plans to question those top officials.
So, instead of being cross jurisdictional, Republicans just crossed them off the list. Last weekend, the chairman told the Republican colleagues to shut up and stop talking about the Select Committee.
What I want to know is this. And this is a key question. Why tell the Republicans to shut up when they are telling the truth, but not when they are attacking Secretary Clinton with reckless accusations that are demonstrably false? Why not tell them to shut up then? Carly Fiorina has said that Secretary Clinton has blood on her hands. Mike Huckabee accused her of ignoring the warning calls from dying Americans in Benghazi. Senator Ryan Paul said Benghazi was a 3 a.m. phone call that she never picked up. And Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, where the hell were you on the night of the Benghazi attack?
Everyone on this panel knows these accusations are baseless, from our own investigation and all those before it. Yet Republican members of this Select Committee remain silent.
On Monday, the Democrats issued a report showing that none of the 54 witnesses the committee interviewed substantiated these wild Republican claims. Secretary Clinton did not order the military to stand down, and she neither approved nor denied requests for additional security.
I ask our report be included in the official report for the hearing. Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: Without objection.
CUMMINGS: What is so telling is that we issued virtually the same report a year ago. Same report. When we first joined the Select Committee, I asked my staff to put together a complete report and database setting forth the questions that have been asked about the attacks and all of the answers that were provided in the eight previous investigations.
I asked that this report also be included in the record, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: Without objection.
CUMMINGS: The problem is that rather than accepting these facts, Republicans continue to spin new conspiracy theories that are just as outlandish and inaccurate.
For example, the chairman recently tried to argue that Sidney Blumenthal was Secretary Clinton’s adviser on Libya. And this past Sunday, Representative Pompeo claimed on national television that Secretary Clinton relied on Sidney Blumenthal for most of her intelligence on Libya. Earlier this week, the Washington Post fact checker awarded this claim four Pinocchios, its worst rating.
Here is the bottom line. The Select Committee has spent 17 months and $4.7 million of taxpayer money. We have held four hearings and conducted 54 interviews and depositions. Yes, we have received some new e-mails from Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Stevens and others. And yes, we have conducted some new interviews.
But these documents and interviews do not show any nefarious activity. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The new information we obtained confirms and corroborates the core facts we already knew from eight previous investigations. They provide more detail, but they do not change the basic conclusions. It is time — it is time, and it is time now, for the Republicans to end this taxpayer-funded fishing expedition. We need to come together and shift from politics to policy. That’s what the American people want, shifting from politics to policy.
We need to finally make good on our promises to the families. And the families only asked us to do three things. One, do not make this a political football. Two, find the facts. Three, do everything in your power to make sure that this does not happen again.
And so we need to start focusing on what we here in Congress can do to improve the safety and security of our diplomatic corps in the future.
And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
GOWDY: The chair thanks the gentleman from Maryland.
Madam Secretary, you are recognized for your opening statement.
CLINTON: Thank you Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Cummings, members of this committee.
The terrorist attacks at our diplomatic compound and later, at the CIA post in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, took the lives of four brave Americans, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty And Tyrone Woods.
I’m here to honor the service of those four men. The courage of the Diplomatic Security Agency and the CIA officers who risked their lives that night. And the work their colleagues do every single day all over the world.
I knew and admired Chris Stevens. He was one of our nation’s most accomplished diplomats. Chris’ mother liked to say he had “sand in his shoes,” because he was always moving, always working, especially in the Middle East that he came to know so well.
When the revolution broke out in Libya, we named Chris as our envoy to the opposition. There was no easy way to get him into Benghazi to begin gathering information and meeting those Libyans who were rising up against the murderous dictator Gadhafi. But he found a way to get himself there on a Greek cargo ship, just like a 19th- century American envoy.
But his work was very much 21st-century, hard-nosed diplomacy.
CLINTON: It is a testament to the relationships that he built in Libya that on the day following the awareness of his death, tens of thousands of Libyans poured into the streets in Benghazi. They held signs reading, “Thugs don’t represent Benghazi or Islam,” “Sorry, people of America, this is not the behavior of our Islam or our prophet,” “Chris Stevens, a friend to all Libyans.”
Although I didn’t have the privilege of meeting Sean Smith personally, he was a valued member of our State Department family. An Air Force veteran, he was an information management officer who had served in Pretoria, Baghdad, Montreal and the Hague.
Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty worked for the CIA. They were killed by mortar fire at the CIA’s outpost in Benghazi, a short distance from the diplomatic compound. They were both former Navy SEALs and trained paramedics with distinguished records of service including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As secretary of State, I had the honor to lead and the responsibility to support nearly 70,000 diplomats and development experts across the globe. Losing any one of them, as we did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Haiti and Libya, during my tenure was deeply painful for our entire State Department and USAID family and for me personally. I was the one who asked Chris to go to Libya as our envoy. I was the one who recommended him to be our ambassador to the president.
After the attacks, I stood next to President Obama as Marines carried his casket and those of the other three Americans off the plane at Andrews Air Force Base. I took responsibility, and as part of that, before I left office, I launched reforms to better protect our people in the field and help reduce the chance of another tragedy happening in the future.
What happened in Benghazi has been scrutinized by a non-partisan hard-hitting Accountability Review Board, seven prior congressional investigations, multiple news organizations and, of course, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. So today, I would like to share three observations about how we can learn from this tragedy and move forward as a nation.
First, America must lead in a dangerous world, and our diplomats must continue representing us in dangerous places. The State Department sends people to more than 270 posts in 170 countries around the world. Chris Stevens understood that diplomats must operate in many places where our soldiers do not, where there are no other boots on the ground and safety is far from guaranteed. In fact, he volunteered for just those assignments.
He also understood we will never prevent every act of terrorism or achieve perfect security and that we inevitably must accept a level of risk to protect our country and advance our interests and values. And make no mistake, the risks are real. Terrorists have killed more than 65 American diplomatic personnel since the 1970s and more than 100 contractors and locally employed staff.
Since 2001, there have been more than 100 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities around the world. But if you ask our most experienced ambassadors, they’ll tell you they can’t do their jobs for us from bunkers. It would compound the tragedy of Benghazi if Chris Stevens’ death and the death of the other three Americans ended up undermining the work to which he and they devoted their lives.
We have learned the hard way when America is absent, especially from unstable places, there are consequences. Extremism take root, aggressors seek to fill the vacuum and security everywhere is threatened, including here at home. That’s why Chris was in Benghazi. It’s why he had served previously in Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem during the second intifada.
Nobody knew the dangers of Libya better. A weak government, extremist groups, rampant instability. But Chris chose to go to Benghazi because he understood America had to be represented there at that pivotal time. He knew that eastern Libya was where the revolution had begun and that unrest there could derail the country’s fragile transition to democracy. And if extremists gained a foothold, they would have the chance to destabilize the entire region, including Egypt and Tunisia. He also knew how urgent it was to ensure that the weapons Gadhafi had left strewn across the country, including shoulder-fired missiles that could knock an airplane out of the sky, did not fall into the wrong hands. The nearest Israeli airport is just a day’s drive from the Libyan border.
Above all, Chris understood that most people in Libya or anywhere reject the extremists’ argument that violence can ever be a path to dignity or justice. That’s what those thousands of Libyans were saying after they learned of his death. And he understood there was no substitute for going beyond the embassy walls and doing the hard work of building relationships.
Retreat from the world is not an option. America cannot shrink from our responsibility to lead. That doesn’t mean we should ever return to the go-it-alone foreign policy of the past, a foreign policy that puts boots on the ground as a first choice rather than a last resort. Quite the opposite. We need creative, confident leadership that harnesses all of America’s strengths and values, leadership that integrates and balances the tools of diplomacy, development and defense.
And at the heart of that effort must be dedicated professionals like Chris Stevens and his colleagues who put their lives on the line for a country, our country, because they believed, as I do, that America is the greatest force for peace and progress the world has ever known. My second observation is this. We have a responsibility to provide our diplomats with the resources and support they need to do their jobs as safely and effectively as possible. After previous deadly attacks, leaders from both parties and both branches of government came together to determine what went wrong and how to fix it for the future.
That’s what happened during the Reagan administration, when Hezbollah attacked our embassy and killed 63 people, including 17 Americans, and then in a later attack attacked our Marine barracks and killed so many more. Those two attacks in Beirut resulted in the deaths of 258 Americans.
It’s what happened during the Clinton administration, when Al Qaida bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing more than 200 people, wounding more than 2,000 people and killing 12 Americans.
And it’s what happened during the Bush administration after 9/11.
Part of America’s strength is we learn, we adapt and we get stronger.
CLINTON: After the Benghazi attacks, I asked Ambassador Thomas Pickering, one of our most distinguished and longest serving diplomats, along with Admiral Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — appointed by President George W. Bush — to lead an accountability review board.
This is an institution that the Congress set up after the terrible attacks in Beirut. There have been 18 previous accountability review boards. Only two have ever made any of their findings public — the one following the attacks on our embassies in East Africa, and the one following the attack on Benghazi.
The accountability review board did not pull a single punch. They sound systemic problems and management deficiencies in two State Department bureaus. And the review board recommended 29 specific improvements. I pledged that by the time I left office, every one would be on the way to implementation and they were.
More Marines were slated for deployment to high-threat embassies. Additional diplomatic security agents were being hired and trained. And Secretary Kerry has continued this work.
But there is more to do and no administration can do it alone. Congress has to be our partner, as it has been after previous tragedies. For example, the accountability review board and subsequent investigations have recommended improved training for our officers before they deploy to the field. But efforts to establish a modern joint training center are being held up by Congress. The men and women who serve our country deserve better.
Finally, there is one more observation I’d like to share. I traveled to 112 countries as secretary of state. Every time I did, I felt great pride and honor representing the country that I love. We need leadership at home to match our leadership abroad, leadership that puts national security ahead of politics and ideology. Our nation has a long history of bipartisan cooperation on foreign policy and national security. Not that we always agree, far from it, but we do come together when it counts.
As secretary of state, I worked with the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to pass a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia. I worked with the Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, to open up Burma, now Myanmar, to democratic change. I know it’s possible to find common ground because I have done it. We should debate on the basis of fact, not fear. We should resist denigrating the patriotism or loyalty of those with whom we disagree. So I’m here. Despite all the previous investigations and all the talk about partisan agendas, I’m here to honor those we lost and to do what I can to aid those who serve us still.
My challenge to you, members of this committee, is the same challenge I put to myself. Let’s be worthy of the trust the American people have bestowed upon us. They expect us to lead, to learn the right lessons, to rise above partisanship and to reach for statesmanship. That’s what I tried to do every day as secretary of state and it’s what I hope we will all strive for here today and into the future.
Meet the members of the Benghazi panel
The group investigating the Benghazi incident is made up of seven Republicans and five Democrats.
GOWDY: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
I did not cut off your opening at all, nor would I think about doing so because the subject matter is critically important and you deserve to be heard. I would just simply note that, and I don’t plan on cutting off any of your answers — our members have questions that we believe are worthy of being answered, so I would just simply note that we do plan to ask all of the questions, and whatever precision and concision that you can give to the answers, without giving short shrift to any of the answers, would be much appreciated.
And with that, I would recognize the gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Roskam.
ROSKAM: Good morning, Secretary Clinton.
Jake Sullivan, your chief foreign policy adviser, wrote a tick- tock on Libya memo on August 21, 2011. And this was the day before the rebels took Tripoli. He titles it, quote, “Secretary Clinton’s Leadership on Libya,” in which he describes you as, quote, “a critical voice” and, quote, “the public face of the U.S. effort in Libya and instrumental in tightening the noose around Gadhafi and his regime.”
But that didn’t come easy, did it? Because you faced considerable opposition, and I can pause while you’re reading your notes from your staff.
CLINTON: One thing at a time, Congressman.
ROSKAM: OK. That didn’t come easy, did it, that leadership role and that public face and so forth that I just mentioned?
CLINTON: (OFF-MIKE) this is an issue that the committee has raised. And it really boils down to why were we in Libya; why did the United States join with our NATO and European allies, join with our Arab partners to protect the people of Libya against the murderous planning of Gadhafi. Why did we take a role alongside our partners in doing so.
There were a number of reasons for that. And I think it is important to remind the American people where we were at the time when the people of Libya, like people across the region, rose up demanding freedom and democracy, a chance to chart their own futures. And Gadhafi…
ROSKAM: I take your point.
CLINTON: … Gadhafi threatened them with genocide, with hunting them down like cockroaches. And we were then approached by, with great intensity, our closest allies in Europe, people who felt very strongly — the French and the British, but others as well — that they could not stand idly by and permit that to happen so close to their shores, with the unintended consequences that they worried about.
And they asked for the United States to help. We did not immediately say yes. We did an enormous amount of due diligence in meeting with not only our European and Arab partners, but also with those were heading up what was called the Transitional National Council. And we had experienced diplomats who were digging deep into what was happening in Libya and what the possibilities were, before we agreed to provide very specific, limited help to the European and Arab efforts.
We did not put one American soldier on the ground. We did not have one casualty. And in fact, I think by many measures, the cooperation between NATO and Arab forces was quite remarkable and something that we want to learn more lessons from.
ROSKAM: Secretary Clinton, you were meeting with opposition within the State Department from very senior career diplomats in fact. And they were saying that it was going to produce a net negative for U.S. military intervention.
For example, in a March 9th, 2011 e-mail discussing what has become known as the Libya options memo, Ambassador Stephen Mull, then the executive secretary of the State Department and one of the top career diplomats, said this, “In the case of our diplomatic history, when we’ve provided material or tactical military support to people seeking to drive their leaders from power, no matter how just their cause, it’s tended to produce net negatives for our interests over the long term in those countries.”
Now, we’ll come back to that in a minute. But you overruled those career diplomats. I mean, they report to you and you’re the chief diplomat of the United States. Go ahead and read the note if you need to.
CLINTON: I have to — I have to…
ROSKAM: I’m not done with my question. I’m just giving you the courtesy of reading your notes.
CLINTON: That’s all right.
ROSKAM: All right.
They were — they were pushing back, but you overcame those objections. But then you had another big obstacle, didn’t you, and that was — that was the White House itself. There were senior voices within the White House that were opposed to military action — Vice President Biden, Department of Defense, Secretary Gates, the National Security Council and so forth.
But you persuaded President Obama to intervene militarily. Isn’t that right?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I think it’s important to point out there were many in the State Department who believed it was very much in America’s interests and in furtherance of our values to protect the Libyan people, to join with our European allies and our Arab partners. The ambassador, who had had to be withdrawn from Libya because of direct attacks — or direct threats to his physical safety, but who knew Libya very well, Ambassador Cretz, was a strong advocate for doing what we could to assist the Europeans and the Arabs.
CLINTON: I think it’s fair to say there were concerns and there were varying opinions about what to do, how to do it, and the like. At the end of the day, this was the president’s decision. And all of us fed in our views. I did not favor it until I had done, as I said, the due diligence speaking with not just people within our government and within the governments of all of the other nations who were urging us to assist them, but also meeting in-person with the gentleman who had assumed a lead role in the Transitional National Council.
So it is of course fair to say this is a difficult decision. I wouldn’t sit here and say otherwise. And there were varying points of view about it. But at the end of the day, in large measure, because of the strong appeals from our European allies, the Arab League passing resolution urging that the United States and NATO join with them, those were unprecedented requests.
And we did decide in recommending to the president there was a way to do it. The president I think, very clearly had a limited instruction about how to proceed. And the first planes that flew were French planes. And I think what the United States provided was some of our unique capacity. But the bulk of the work militarily was done by Europeans and Arabs.
ROSKAM: Well I think you are underselling yourself. You got the State Department on board. You convinced the president, you overcame the objections of Vice President Biden and Secretary of Defense Gates, the National Security Council. And you had another obstacle then, and that was the United Nations.
And you were able to persuade the Russians, of all things, to abstain, and had you not been successful in arguing that abstention, the Security Council Resolution 1973 wouldn’t have passed because the Russians had a veto. So you overcame that obstacle as well, right? Isn’t that right?
CLINTON: Well congressman, it is right that doing my due diligence and reviewing the various options and the potential consequences of pursuing each of them, I was in favor of the United States joining with our European allies and our air partners and I also was in favor of obtaining U.N. Security Council support because I thought that would provide greater legitimacy. And that of course, our ambassador to the U.N. was very influential and successful in making the case to her colleagues. But this was at the behest of the president once he was presented with the varying argument.
ROSKAM: And you presented the argument… CLINTON: Congressman, I have been in a number of situation room discussions. I remember very well, the very intense conversation over whether or not to launch the Navy SEALS against the compound we thought in (inaudible) that might house bin Laden.
There was a split in the advisers around the president. Eventually the president makes the decision. I supported doing what we could to support our European and Arab partners in their effort on a humanitarian basis, a strategic basis, to prevent Gadhafi from launching and carrying massacres.
ROSKAM: There was another obstacle that you overcame and that was the Arabs themselves. Jake Sullivan sent you an e-mail, and he said this, “I think you should call. It will be a painful 10 minutes. But you will be the one who delivered Arab support.” And that’s a Jake Sullivan e-mail of March 17th to you asking you to call the secretary general of the Arab League.
So to put this in totality, you were able to overcome opposition within the State Department. You were able to persuade the president. You were able to persuade the United Nations and the international community. You made the call to the Arabs and brought them home. You saw it. You drove it. You articulated it. And you persuaded people. Did I get that wrong?
CLINTON: Well, congressman, I was the secretary of state. My job was to conduct the diplomacy. And the diplomacy consisted of a long series of meetings and phone calls both here in our country and abroad to take the measure of what people were saying and whether they meant it.
We had heard sometimes before from countries saying, well, the United States should go do this. And when we would say, well, what would you do in support of us, there was not much coming forth. This time, if they wanted us to support them in what they saw as an action vital respective to their respective national security interests, I wanted to be sure they were going to bear the bulk of the load. And in fact, they did. What the United States did, as I said, was use our unique capacities. As I recall, if you want if you monetary terms, slightly over a billion dollars or less than we spend in Iraq in one day, is what the United States committed in support of our allies. We asked our allies to do a lot for us Congressman, they had asked is for us to help them.
ROSKAM: My time is expiring. Let me reclaim my time. Let me reclaim my time because it’s expiring. Actually, you summed it up best when you e-mailed your senior staff and you said of this interchange, you said, “It’s good to remind ourselves and the rest of the world that this couldn’t have happened without us.” And you were right, Secretary Clinton.
Our Libya policy be couldn’t have happened without you because you were its chief architect. And I said we were going to go back to Ambassador Mulls’ warning about using military for regime change, and he said, “Long-term things weren’t going to turn out very well. And he was right. After your plan, things in Libya today are a disaster. I yield back.
CLINTON: Well, we’ll have more time I’m sure to talk about this because that’s not a view that I will ascribe to.
GOWDY: Thank the gentleman from Illinois and I recognize the gentleman from Maryland.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much Madam secretary, and again I want to thank you for being here. I want to start with the No. 1 question that Republicans claim has not been answered in eight previous investigations. Yesterday the chairman wrote an op-ed and he said, this is his top unanswered question about Benghazi. And it is, and I quote, “Why our people in Libya and Benghazi made so many requests for additional security personnel and equipment and why those requests were denied?”
I’ll give you a chance to answer in a minute. Secretary Clinton, as you know, this exact question has been asked many times and answered many times. Let’s start with the accountability review board. Now you, a moment ago you talked about Admiral Mullen. But you also appointed another very distinguished gentlemen, Ambassador Pickering.
And of course Admiral Mullen served under Republican administrations. And Ambassador Pickering, who I have a phenomenal amount of respect for, served 40 years, as you know, as part of our diplomatic core. He served under George H.W. Bush and also served as U.N. Ambassador under — he also served under Reagan.
Now, I’m just wondering — let me go back to that question. Why our people in Libya and Benghazi made so many requests, and then, I want you to comment. There seems to be an implication that the ARB, Accountability Review Board, was not independent. And I think the chairman said they were hand-picked by you, of course, that’s done by law. But I’m just — would you comment on those two things, please?
CLINTON: Yes. I’d be happy to.
Now, as I said in my opening statement, I take responsibility for what happened in Benghazi. I felt a responsibility for all 70,000 people working at the State Department in USAID. I take that very seriously. As I said with respect to security requests in Benghazi back when I testified in January 2013, those requests and issues related to security were rightly handled by the security professionals in the department.
I did not see them. I did not approve them. I did not deny them. Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen make this case very clearly in their testimony before your committee and in their public comments. These issues would not ordinarily come before the secretary of state. And they did not in this case.
As secretary, I was committed to taking aggressive measures to ensure our personnel’s and facilities were as safe as possible. And certainly when the nonpartisan critical report from the accountability review board came forward, I took it very seriously. And that’s why I embraced all of their recommendations and created a new position within the Diplomatic Security Bureau specifically to evaluate high- risk posts.
CLINTON: I think it’s important also to mention, Congressman, that the Diplomatic Security professionals who were reviewing these requests, along with those who are serving in war zones and hot spots around the world, have great expertise and experience in keeping people safe. If you go on CODELs, they are the ones who plan your trip to keep you safe.
They certainly did that for me. But most importantly, that’s what they do every day for everybody who serves our country as a diplomat or development professional.
And I was not going to second-guess them. I was not going to substitute my judgment, which is not based on experience that they have in keeping people safe, for theirs. And the changes that were recommended by the accountability review board are ones that we thought made sense and began quickly to implement.
CUMMINGS: Now, the ARB., after conducting, Madam Secretary, more than 100 interviews, identifies a specific employee at the State Department who denied these requests. It was Deputy Assistant Secretary Of The Bureau Of Diplomatic Security Charlene Lamb. And again, she did come before the Oversight Committee.
The ARB report was very critical of her. It was also critical of her two supervisors. Principal deputy assistant secretary and the assistant secretary for Diplomatic Security. The Oversight Committee found the same answer as the ARB. It found that this official denied these requests. It found no evidence that you approved or denied them.
The problem is Republicans just keep asking the same question over and over again, and pretend they don’t know the answer. In 2013, the Republican chairman of five House committees issued a report falsely accusing you personally of denying these requests cable (ph) over your signature.
The next day, the next day, the chairman of the Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, went on national television and accused you of the same thing.
Can we play that clip, please?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA, R-CALIF.: Secretary of State was just wrong. She said she did not participate in this. And yet only a few months before the attack, she outright denied security in her signature in April 2014.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: Do you remember that, Madam Secretary?
CLINTON: I do.
CUMMINGS: Well, when the Washington Post fact checker examined this claim, they gave it four Pinocchios. They called it a whopper. It turns out, that the Republicans had a copy of that cable, but didn’t tell the American people that your so-called signature was just a stamp that appeared on millions of cables from the State Department every single year.
Is that right?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
CUMMINGS: Now, Madam Secretary, my goal has always been to gather facts and to defend the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Last year, I asked our staff to compile an asked and answered database.
And this particular issue was answered thoroughly. On Monday, we put out another report and this issue was addressed yet again. But the Republicans want to keep this attack going, so they are now trying to argue that we have new e-mails that raise new questions.
The truth is that we have reviewed these e-mails, and they don’t contradict previous conclusions. They confirm them. They corroborate them. We have reviewed e-mails from Ambassador Stevens. And they show that he asked Charleston Lamb for more security.
Nothing we have obtained, not the new interviews or the new e- mails changes the basic fact we have known for three years.
Secretary Clinton, let me ask one final question, and please take as much time as you want to answer this. There is no evidence to support the Republican claims that you personally rejected security requests. So, some have a argued that since you knew the danger was increasing in Libya, you should have been in there making detailed decisions about whether this would be 5, 7, or even 9 security officers at any given post.
Madam Secretary, I know you have answered it over again. You might just want to elaborate and just I’ll give you — I have a minute and seven seconds.
CLINTON: Well, thank you, Congressman. I think there has been some confusion, and I welcome the opportunity to try to clarify it to the best of my ability. With respect, as you rightly point out, the claims that were made about the cables, I think you have explained the fact, which is that it is the long-standing tradition of the State Department for cables from around the world to be sent to and sent from the State Department under the signature, over the signature of the secretary of State. It’s a — it’s a stamp. It’s just part of the tradition. There are millions of them, as you point out. They are sorted through and directed to the appropriate personnel. Very few of them ever come to my attention.
None of them with respect to security regarding Benghazi did. Then the other point, which I thank you for raising so that perhaps I can speak to this one as well. There is, of course, information that we were obtaining about the increasingly dangerous environment in Libya.
Across the country, but in particular in Eastern Libya. And we were aware of that. And we were certainly taking that into account. There was no actionable intelligence on September 11th, or even before that date, about any kind of planned attack on our compound in Benghazi. And there were a lot of debates, apparently, that went on within the security professionals about what to provide.
Because they did have to prioritize. The Accountability Review Board pointed that out. The State Department has historically, and certainly before this terrible accident, not had the amount of money we thought necessary to do what was required to protect everyone.
So, of course, there had to be priorities. And that was something that the security professionals dealt with. I think that both Admiral Mullen And Ambassador Pickering made it very clear that they thought that the high threat post should move to a higher level of scrutiny. And we had immediately moved to do that.
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
GOWDY: Thank the gentleman. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Indiana, Ms. Brooks.
BROOKS: Good morning, Secretary Clinton.
CLINTON: Good morning.
BROOKS: Thank you for being here today. In drawing on what you just said, that very few, but no requests for Benghazi came to your attention, I’d like to show you something. This pile represents the e-mails that you sent or received about Libya in 2011, from February through December of 2011.
This pile represents the e-mails you sent or received from early 2012 until the day of the attack. There are 795 e-mails in this pile. We’ve counted them.
There’s 67 e-mails in this pile in 2012. And I’m troubled by what I see here. And so, my questions relate to these piles. In this pile in 2011 I see daily updates, sometimes is hourly updates from your staff about Benghazi and Chris Stevens.
When I look at this pile in 2012, I only see a handful of e-mails to you from your senior staff about Benghazi. And I have several questions for you about this disparity, because we know from talking to your senior advisers, that they knew, and many of them are here today seated behind you, they knew to send you important information, issues that were of importance to you.
And I can only conclude by your own records that there was a lack of interest in Libya in 2012.
So, let’s first focus, though, on this pile and what was happening in Libya in 2011. We had an ambassador to Libya, Ambassador Cretz. But you have told us — and you told us in your opening, you hand-picked Chris Stevens to be your special representative in Benghazi, and you sent him there.
And by your own e-mails, most provided last February, a few provided just a few weeks ago, they show that in March of ’11 — so, we’re in March of ’11, you had Chris Stevens join you in Paris, where you were meeting with the leader of the Libyan revolution.
And after Paris, that is when, as you talked about Chris Stevens went into Benghazi I believe in April 5th of 2011 on that Greek cargo ship. How long was he expected to stay?
What were Chris Stevens’s orders from you about Libya and about Benghazi specifically?
CLINTON: Chris Stevens was asked to go to Benghazi to do reconnaissance, to try to figure out who were the leaders of the insurgency who were based in Benghazi, what their goals were, what they understood would happen if they were successful. It was, as I had, the hard-nosed 21st century diplomacy that is rooted in the old- fashioned necessary work of building relationships and gathering information.
BROOKS: How long was he anticipated to stay in Benghazi, do you recall?
CLINTON: There — it was open-ended. We were, in discussing it with him, unsure as to how productive it would be, whether it would be appropriate for him to stay for a long time or a short time. That was very much going to depend upon Chris’ own assessment.
We knew we were sending someone who understood the area, who understood the language, who understood a lot of the personalities because of the historical study that he used to love to do. And we were going to be guided by what he decided.
BROOKS: I’d like to draw your attention to an e-mail. It’s an e-mail found at Tab 1. It’s an Op Center e-mail that was forwarded to you from Huma Abedin on Sunday, March 27th that says at the bottom of the e-mail — so the current game plan is for Mr. Stevens to move no later than Wednesday from Malta to Benghazi. But the bottom of the e- mail says the goal of this one-day trip is for him to lay the groundwork for a stay of up to 30 days.
So just to refresh that recollection, I believe initially the goal was to go in for 30 days. Were you personally briefed on his security plan prior to him going into Libya?
BROOKS: Because at that time, if I’m not mistaken — I’m sorry to interrupt — Gadhafi’s forces were still battling the rebels, correct?
CLINTON: That’s right.
BROOK: And so what were — were you personally briefed before you sent Mr. Stevens into Benghazi?
CLINTON: I was personally told by the officials who were in the State Department who were immediately above Chris, who were making the plans for him to go in, that it was going to be expeditionary diplomacy. It was going to require him to make a lot of judgments on the ground about what he could accomplish and including where it would be safe for him to be and how long for him to stay. And I think the initial decision was, you know, up to 30 days and reassess. But it could have been 10 days, it could have been 60 days depending upon what he found and what he reported back to us.
BROOKS: And possibly what was determined about the danger of Benghazi. Who were those officials?
CLINTON: Well, there were a number of officials who were…
BROOKS: That were advising you on the security specifically?
CLINTON: Well, with respect to the security, this was a particular concern of the assistant secretary for the bureau in which Chris worked.
BROOKS: I’m sorry. What was that person’s name?
CLINTON: Assistant secretary Jeff Feldman.
BROOKS: Thank you.
CLINTON: And it was also a concern of the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, as well as other officials within the State Department. And I think it’s fair to say, Congresswoman, this was, we all knew, a risky undertaking and it was something that was, as I said in my opening statement, more reminiscent of the way diplomacy was practiced back in the 19th century.
Because we didn’t have is the Internet. We didn’t have instantaneous communication. You would send diplomats and envoys into places and not hear from them for maybe months. This was obviously not of that kind, but it was not that different in degree from what we had done before. And it was a risky undertaking and one which Chris volunteered for and was anxious to undertake.
BROOKS: And it was so risky — I’d like to pull up another e- mail from the Op Center that forwarded to you from Ms. Abedin Sunday, April 10th. So he had been there about five days. And it indicates that the situation in Ajdabiya had worsened to the point where Stevens is considering departing from Benghazi. This is within five days of him going in.
Were you aware of that concern in the first five days that he had gone in?
BROOKS: And did anyone share that with you and — did share that with you?
CLINTON: Yes. We were aware because we were — we were really counting on Chris to guide us and give us the information from the ground. We had no other sources. You know, there was no American outpost. There was no, you know, American military presence. Eventually, other Americans representing different agencies were able to get into Benghazi and begin to do the same work, but they, of course, couldn’t do that work overtly, which is why we wanted a diplomat who could be publicly meeting with people to try to get the best assessment.
But it was always going to be a constant risk, and we knew that.
BROOKS: And so let me go back to the risk in 2011 because there was a lot of communication, again, once again from your senior staff, from the State Department to you or from you in 2011. And in fact, that is when Gadhafi fell. He fell in 2011. But then when we go to 2012, Libya, Benghazi, Chris Stevens, the staff there, they seem to fall off your radar in 2012, and the situation is getting much worse in 2012. It was getting much worse.
And let me just share for you in your records that we have reviewed, there is not one e-mail to you or from you in 2012 when an explosive device went off at our compound in April. There’s not a single e-mail in your records about that explosive device.
So my question is, this was a very important mission in 2011, you sent Chris Stevens there. But yet when your compound is attacked in 2012, what kind of culture was created in the State Department that your folks couldn’t tell you in an e-mail about a bomb in April of 2012?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, I did not conduct most of the business that I did on behalf of our country on e-mail. I conducted it in meetings. I read massive amounts of memos, a great deal of classified information. I made a lot of secure phone calls. I was in and out of the White House all the time. There were a lot of things that happened that I was aware of and that I was reacting to.
If you were to be in my office in the State Department, I didn’t have a computer, I did not do the vast is majority of the work on my e-mail. And I bet there are a lot of Sid Blumenthal’s e-mails in there from 2011 too.
BROOKS: Well, we’ll get to…
CLINTON: And so I think that there were — I don’t want you to have a mistaken impression about what I did and how I did it. Most of my work was not done on e-mails with my closest aides, with officials in the State Department, officials in the rest of the government, as well as the White House and people around the world.
BROOKS: And thank you for sharing that because I’m sure that it’s not all done on e-mails, Madam Secretary, and there are meetings and there are discussions. And so then when your compound took a second attack on June 6th, when a bomb blew a wall through the compound then, no e-mails, no e-mails at all. But I am interested in knowing who were you meeting with, who were you huddling with, how were you informed about those things? Because there is nothing in the e-mails that talks about two significant attacks on our compounds in 2012. There was a lot of information in 2011 about issues and security posture and yet nothing in 2012.
CLINTON: Well, I’d be happy to explain. Every morning when I arrived at the State Department, usually between 8:00 and 8:30, I had a personal one-on-one briefing from the representative of the Central Intelligence Agency who shared with me the highest level of classified information that I was to be aware of on a daily basis.
I then had a meeting with the top officials of the State Department every day that I was in town. That’s where a lot of information, including threats and attacks on our facilities, was shared. I also had a weekly meeting every Monday with all of the officials, the assistant secretaries and others, so that I could be brought up to date on any issue they were concerned about.
During the day, I received hundreds of pages of memos, many of them classified, some of them so top secret they were brought into my office in a locked briefcase that I had to read and immediately return to the courier. And I was constantly at the White House in the situation room meeting with the national security adviser and others. I would also be meeting with officials in the State Department, foreign officials and others.
So there was a lot going on during every day. I did not e-mail during the day and — except on rare occasions when I was able to. But I didn’t conduct the business that I did primarily on e-mail. That is not how I gathered information, assessed information, asked the hard questions of the people that I worked with.
BROOKS: It appears that leaving Benghazi — with respect to all of that danger, leaving Benghazi was not an option in 2012.
And I yield back.
CLINTON: If I could just quickly respond, there was never a recommendation from any intelligence official in our government, from any official in the State Department, or from any other person with knowledge of our presence in Benghazi to shut down Benghazi, even after the two attacks that the compound suffered.
And perhaps, you know, you would wonder why, but I can tell you that it was thought that the mission in Benghazi, in conjunction with the CIA mission, was vital to our national interests.
GOWDY: The gentlelady from Indiana yields back.
The chair will now briefly recognize Mr. Cummings and then Ms. Duckworth.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I just want to clarify, when I was asking Secretary Clinton a question a moment ago, I mentioned an e-mail that had gone from Ambassador Chris Stevens to Deputy Secretary Lamb. What I meant to say was a cable. And I just wanted to make sure the record was clear.
GOWDY: The record will reflect that.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Clinton, I’m pleased that you finally have the opportunity to be here. Before I start my line of questioning, I just want to clarify with regard to the April-June, 2012 incidents. I believe that the procedure that the State Department had for these types of incidents was to actually hold what are called emergency action committee hearings on the ground immediately. And in fact, there were at least five on the records for June alone, on the ground in both Tripoli and Benghazi.
And that is the correct procedure for handling such instances. Is that not correct?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
Secretary Clinton, my focus and my job on this committee is to make sure that we never put brave Americans like Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty ever on the ground again anywhere in the world without the protection that they so rightly deserve.
Having flown combat missions myself in some dangerous places, I understand the dedication of our men and women who choose to serve this country overseas. I have a special affinity for the diplomatic corps because these are folks who go in without the benefit of weapons, without the benefit of military might, armed only with America’s values and diplomatic words and a handshake, to forward our nation’s interests globally.
And so I am absolutely determined to make sure that we safeguard in the name of our heroic dead our men and women in the diplomatic corps wherever where they around the world.
So, the bottom line for me, I’m a very mission-driven person, the bottom line for me with respect to examining what went wrong in Benghazi is clear. Let’s learn from those mistakes and let’s figure out what we need to do to fix them.
I’ve only been in Congress not quite three years, almost three years. And in this time, I’ve actually served on two other committees in addition to this one that has looked at the Benghazi attacks, both Armed Services and Oversight and Government Reform. So I’ve had a chance to really look at all of these documents.
One of the things that I saw, and I’d like you to — discuss this with you, is that the Department of State and the Department of Defense at the time seems to have not had the most ideal cooperation when it came to threat or security analysis. I do know, however, that over the past decade, they’ve established a tradition of working together on the ground in dangerous regions that has increased over time.
However, as a member of the Armed Services Committee, which also looked at the Benghazi attack, I’m concerned that the interagency cooperation between State and DOD was not sufficient in the weeks and months leading up to the September 11, 2012 attacks. For example, joint contingency planning and training exercises, if we had conducted any joint interagency planning and training exercises, this may have actually helped State and DOD to identify and fix existing vulnerabilities in the temporary mission facility in Benghazi.
Moreover, regular communications between AFRICOM, which is the DOD command, and the special mission Benghazi, could have facilitated the pre-positioning of military assets in a region where there were very real questions over the host country’s ability to protect our diplomatic personnel.
Secretary Clinton, within the weeks of the terrorist attack in Benghazi happening, following that, I understand you partnered with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to establish and deploy five interagency security assessment teams to assess our security posture and needs at at least the 19 high-threat posts in 13 different countries. In fact, Deputy Secretary Nize (ph) testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in December of 2012 that the State Department and DOD ISAT initiative created a road map for addressing emerging security challenges.
Why did you partner with the Department of Defense to conduct such a high-priority review? And was it effective in addressing the shortfalls inn Benghazi and applying it for other locations?
CLINTON: Congressman — Congresswoman, thank you very much, and thanks for your service, and particularly your knowledge about these issues rising from your own military service and the service on the committees here in the House.
It’s very challenging to get military assets into countries that don’t want them there. And in fact, that has been a constant issue that we have worked, between the State Department and the Department of Defense. The Libyans made it very clear from the very beginning they did not want any American military or any foreign military at all in their country.
And what I concluded is that we needed to have these assessments because even if we couldn’t post our own military in the country, we needed to have a faster reaction. I certainly agree 100 percent with the findings of the Armed Services Committee here in the House and other investigations. Our military did everything they could. They turned over every rock. They tried to deploy as best they could to try to get to Benghazi. It was beyond the geographic range. They didn’t have assets nearby because we don’t have a lot of installations and military personnel that are in that immediate region.
So following what happened in Benghazi, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey and I, agreed to send out mixed teams of our diplomatic security and their top security experts from the Defense Department to get a better idea of the 19 high-threat posts. And that’s exactly what we did. And it gave us some guidance to try to have better planning ahead of time.
I know Admiral Mullen testified that it would be beyond the scope of our military to be able to provide immediate reaction to 270 posts. But that’s why we tried to narrow down. And of course, we do get help from our military in war zones. The military has been incredibly supportive of our embassy in Kabul and our embassy in Baghdad. But we have a lot of hot spots now and very dangerous places that are not in military conflict areas where we have American military presence.
So we wanted to figure out how we could get more quickly a fast reaction team to try to help prevent what happened in Benghazi.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
So this ISAT process that the joint teams at DOD and State that goes out, and initially looked at the 19 posts, that’s great that they come back with a report. It’s kind of like, you know, the seven reports do this, and now we have another committee. We can keep having committees to look into Benghazi, but we never act on them. It doesn’t help our men and women on the ground. And that’s what I’m focused on.
So what I want to know is, with these ISATs, so they came back with their recommendations to you. Have they been resourced? Are they institutionalized? Is — what has been done with this process so that it’s not a snapshot in time in reaction to Benghazi attack? And I want to make sure that, you know, at the very least, we’re continuing that cooperation, or at least there’s some sort of institutionalization of the review process to make sure that if it’s not those 19 posts, if the shift now is there’s 20 posts or some other posts. What has been done to make sure it’s institutionalized?
CLINTON: Well, that was one of the changes that I instituted before I left. And I’m confident that Secretary Kerry and his counterpart, Secretary Carter, at the Defense Department are continuing that. Because I think it was very useful. Certainly, it was useful for our security professionals and our diplomats to be partnered in that way with the Defense Department.
You know, historically, the only presence at some of our facilities has been Marines. And as you know well, Marines were there not for the purpose of personnel protection. They were there to destroy classified material and equipment. And so part of the challenge that we have faced inn some of these hot-spot, dangerous areas is how we get more of a presence. And after Benghazi, we were able to get Marines deployed to Tripoli.
So this is a constant effort between the State Department and the Defense Department, but it’s my strong belief that the ISAT process has been and should be institutionalized and we should keep learning from it.
DUCKWORTH: I’d like to touch on the quadrennial reviews. Again, coming from Armed Services, even as a young platoon leader out in, you know, in a platoon, we got and read the defense quadrennial review, which is a review that happens on a periodic basis, that gives the individual soldier an idea of what the Defense Department is trying to do. And I understand you initiated something similar in the State Department.
DUCKWORTH: And this goes to — there’s been discussion already about the culture at the State Department, especially when it comes to security. I found that the Department of Defense Quadrennial Defense Review is really good at instilling culture throughout the department.
Can you talk a little bit how and why you decided to do the review for the State Department? Was it useful? Is it useful? Is it getting out there? Is it a waste of time, and we shouldn’t be wasting money on it and we should be doing something else?
CLINTON: Well, I hope it’s not the latter. I learned about the Quadrennial Defense Review serving on Armed Services Committee in the Senate during my time there.
I agree with you completely, Congresswoman. It is a very successful road map as to where we should be going. And I’m impressed as a platoon leader, it was something you too into account. So, when I came to the State Department, there had never been anything like this done, there was no road map.
And the State Department, USAID would come up and fight for the money they could get out of Congress, no matter who was in charge of the Congress, every single year. It is one percent of the entire budget. And it was very difficult to explain effectively what it is we were trying to achieve.
So it did institute the first ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Diplomacy And Development Review. And one of the key questions that we were addressing is, what is this balance between risk and reward when it comes to our diplomats and our development professionals?
Because the first thing I heard when I got to the State Department was a litany of complaints from a lot of our most experienced diplomats that they were being ham-strung. That the security requirements were so intense, that they were basically unable to do their jobs. And of course, then, from the security professionals, who were all part of this, what we call the QDDR, they were saying, we don’t want you to go beyond the fence.
We can’t protect you in all of these dangerous circumstances. How you balance that — and it is a constant balancing of risk and reward, in terms of what we hope our diplomats and development professionals can do. So, it has been twice now. Secretary Kerry, in his tenure, has done the second QDDR. And I hope it becomes as important and as much of a road map as the QDR has for our Defense Department and our military services.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you. I’m out of time, Mr. Chairman.
GOWDY: Thank you the gentle lady from Illinois. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Alabama, Ms. Roby.
ROBY: Good morning.
CLINTON: Good morning.
ROBY: Secretary Clinton, some I colleagues have focused on your relationship with the Ambassador Chris Stevens, and why you sent him into Benghazi in 2011 as part of your broader Libya initiative.
But it’s not so clear from everything that we’ve reviewed that you had a vision in Benghazi going forward into 2012 and beyond. It appears that there was confusion and uncertainly within your own department about Libya. And quite frankly, Secretary Clinton, it appears that you were a large cause of that uncertainty.
And we have seen all the day-to-day updates and concern early in 2011. And I heard what you said to my colleague, Ms. Brooks. And I’ll get to that in a minute.
But showing that Libya, and for that matter Benghazi, belonged to you in 2011. It was yours, so to speak. And from your own records that we have, we saw a drop in your interest in Libya and Benghazi in 2012.
Not only do the records show your drop in interest in Benghazi, it was even noticed by your own staff. I want to point this out to you — I say this, because I want to point you to an e-mail in early February 2012, between two staffers at your Libya desk that says, you didn’t know whether we still even had a presence in Benghazi.
Let’s not use my words. Let’s use theirs. This can be found at tab 31. The e-mail says — and it is dated February 9, 2012. One writes to the other about an encounter that she had with you.
Quote, “Also, the secretary also asked last week if we still have a presence in Benghazi. I think she would be upset to hear, yes, we do. But because we don’t have enough security, they are on lockdown,” end quote.
And I say this is very troubling to me because it raises several issues that I would like to ask you about. I’m struck by the first part, quote, “The secretary asked last week if we still have a presence in Benghazi.” Now, you pointed out to Mrs. Brooks in her last line of questioning, based on the e-mail stacks here, that you engaged in a lot of conversations and briefings. So, I’m assuming that this conversation with this member of your staff took place in one of those briefings.
But then she sent this e-mail asking about this. So, how can this be that two of your staffers are e-mailing about whether or not you even knew if we had a presence in Benghazi in 2012, with all your interest in Libya in 2011, including your trip in October of 2011? And that months later, we come to find out you didn’t even know we had a presence there?
CLINTON: Well, I can’t comment on what has been reported. Of course, I knew we had a presence in Benghazi. I knew that we were evaluating what that presence should be, how long it should continue. And I knew exactly what we were doing in Libya.
And I think it’s important. Since you have very legitimate questions about what we were doing. You know, the United States played a role in the first election that the Libyan people had in 51 years. It was a successful election by every count. And they voted for moderates. They voted for the kind of people they wanted to govern them.
We had a very successful effort that the United States supported, getting rid of Gadhafi’s remaining chemical weapons, which we led and supported the United Nations and others in being able to do.
We were combating the proliferation of weapons. That’s one of the reasons why there was a CIA presence in Benghazi, because we were trying to figure out how to get those weapons out of the wrong hands, and get them collected in a way and destroyed. And in fact, we began reducing those heavy weapon stocks.
We were working on providing transition assistance to the Libyans. I met with the Libyans. I telephoned with the Libyans. I saw the Libyans all during this period. And it was hard. Because a lot of them knew what they wanted, but they didn’t know how to get from where they were to that goal.
And we did an enormous amount of work. My two deputies, Tom Nides and Bill Burns, went to Libya. Other officials in the State Department went to Libya. So there was a constant, continuing effort that I led to try to see what we could do to help.
Now, one of the problems we faced is that the Libyans did not really feel that welcome a peace-keeping mission. They couldn’t welcome foreign troops to their soil. That made it really difficult. And it didn’t have to be American troops, it could have been troops from anywhere in the world under a U.N. Mandate that might have helped them begin to secure their country.
ROBY: Secretary Clinton, if I may, I hear what you’re saying, but this e-mail says something very, very different.
CLINTON: Well, I — you know, I can’t speak to that. I can just tell you what I was doing, and I was doing a lot.
ROBY: Sure. But these — this was your staff. And I…
ROBY: If they had this conversation with you, why would they make it up?
But I want to move on. This e-mail, you know, makes me wonder about the vision for Benghazi, because they’re asking if you — they’re saying that you asked if we still had a presence. But if you — you know, we look at the second part of the e-mail, quote, “And I think she would be upset to say, yes, we do,” I…
CLINTON: Congresswoman, I’m sorry. I have no recollection of, or no knowledge of — of course…
ROBY: Well, please turn to tab 31, because it’s right there.
CLINTON: Well, I trust that you have read it. But I also tell you that we had a presence in Benghazi. We had members of the administration and Congress visiting Benghazi.
So, of course, I knew we had a presence in Benghazi. I can’t speak to what someone either heard or misheard. But I think what’s important, and I understand that the underlying point of your request question is, what were we doing about Libya? And after Gadhafi fell.
ROBY: Right. And I’ve heard that first part.
CLINTON: And that’s what I’m trying to explain to you about what we were doing.
ROBY: Yes, ma’am. I want to get to the second part of the e- mail that suggests that we were in lockdown, that you would have been upset to know yes — heard the first part of your answer — but that we were in lockdown. And you’ve said on numerous occasions, including in your opening statement, on point number one, you know, America must lead and we must represent in dangerous places, quote, “They can’t do their jobs for us in bunkers.”
And essentially what we know is that there weren’t the required number of security on the ground in order for the individual to even move about the country to provide you with what you have reiterated on numerous occasions as being very important at that time, which is political reporting.
CLINTON: Well, could — could you tell me who is — who are the names on this e-mail that you’re talking about?
ROBY: Sure. I can. Turn to tab 31. You have a book in front of you. It is Alice Abdallah and I’m going to pronounce it wrong, Enya Sodarais (ph)? Is that correct?
CLINTON: They were not on my staff. I’m not in any way contradicting what they think they heard or what they heard somebody say. But the people that I know…
ROBY: Can you tell me who they were if they were not on your staff?
CLINTON: They were not on my — they were in the State Department, along with thousands of other people. They were not part of the secretary staff. But I get what you’re saying, Congresswoman. And I want to focus on this. I think it’s a fair and important question.
The facility in Benghazi was a temporary facility. There had been no decision made as to whether or not it would be permanent. It was not even a consulate. Our embassy was in Tripoli. Obviously much of the work that we were doing was going through the embassy.
There was a very vigorous discussion on the part of people who were responsible for making a recommendation about Benghazi as to what form of consulate, what form of facility it should be. Chris Stevens believed that it should be a formal consulate.
But that was something that had to be worked out. And there had not yet been a decision at the time that the attack took place. So it was not a permanent facility. And, you know, there were a number of questions that people were asking about whether it could or should be.
ROBY: I want to drill down on the security issue. But I also want to say it’s frustrating for us here on this panel asking these questions to hear you in your opening statement talk about the responsibility you took for all 70 plus thousand employees, yet I read you an e-mail between two of those employees and it seems as though you’re just kind of brushing it off as not having any knowledge.
CLINTON: I’m just saying I have no recollection of it and it doesn’t correspond with the facts of what we were doing on a regular basis. ROBY: Well if we talk for just a minute about the security, I have a few seconds left. In 2011, during the revolution, then envoy Stevens had 10 agents with him on the ground in Benghazi. And then we know in 2012 where the security situation had deteriorated even further, there were only three agents assigned to Benghazi.
Again, can’t even move anybody off of the facility to do the necessary political reporting. And my question is, you know, why did you not acknowledge, because of your interest in 2011, the importance of having those security officers there to do what was so important to you, which was the political reporting? Then in 2011, 2010, and when an am bass doctor was there, three, and he brought two of his own the night of the attack, which would meet the requisite five, but there was really only three there at any given time. So if you could address that, again, I’m running a little short on time.
CLINTON: Well, he did have five with him on September 11th and…
ROBY: Well, he brought two, right? He brought two with him, there were three there, and there were…
CLINTON: Right. But the point was they were personal security. So they were there to secure him. So yes, he did bring two. When he got there, he had five.
ROBY: Can you address the discrepancy?
CLINTON: The day before September 10th he went in to Benghazi. He went to a luncheon with leading civic leaders, business leaders in Benghazi. So he felt very comfortable. It was his decision. Ambassadors do not have to seek permission from the State Department to travel around the country that they are assigned to.
He decided to go to Benghazi by taking two security officers with him and having three there, he had the requisite five that had been the subject of discussion between the embassy and the State Department security professionals.
I’m not going to in any way suggest that he or the embassy got everything they requested. We know that they didn’t from the Accountability Review Board, by investigations that were done by the Congress. We know that there were a lot of discussions about what was needed, particularly in Benghazi. And that the day that he died he had five security officers.
A lot of security professionals who have reviewed this matter, even those who are critical, that the State Department did not do enough, have said that the kind of attack that took place would have been very difficult to repel. That’s what we have to learn from, Congresswoman.
There are many lessons going back to Beirut, going back to Tehran and the take over of our embassy and going all the way through these years. And sometimes we learn lessons and we actually act and we do the best we can. And there’s a perfect, terrible example of that with respect to what happened in Benghazi.
Certainly. And my time has expired. We will certainly never know what the outcome would have been if there had been more agents that night. I yield back.
CLINTON: Well, that’s not what the professionals, that’s not what the experts in security have concluded, if you have read the Accountability Review Board…
ROBY: I have read it Secretary Clinton. And it says that security was grossly in adequate.
CLINTON: Well, it said that there were deficiencies within two bureaus in the State Department which we have moved to correct and it also pointed out that the diplomatic security officers that were there acted heroically. There was not one single question about what they did. And they were overrun. And it was unfortunate that the agreement we had with the CIA annex and when those brave men showed up that it was also not enough.
ROBY: Certainly. We’ll discuss this more. I have to yield back.
GOWDY: The gentle lady’s time has expired. The chair will now recognizes the gentleman from Washington.
SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you Madam Secretary for being here. Just to clarify, you knew we had a presence.
CLINTON: Of course I knew, I knew, Congressman, of course.
SMITH: Going back to your earlier question, you were also aware of those two attacks on your compounds even though you didn’t e-mail about it.
CLINTON: Yes, I was aware.
SMITH: And that I think sort of points out, I mean, after 17 months and $4.7 million, as the ranking member pointed out in his opening statements, and as we’ve seen today, you know, this committee is simply not doing its job. And I don’t really think it should have been formed in the first place.
But what we have heard here is well, first of all, an obsession with e-mail. The idea that two fairly junior level staffers might not have gotten something wrong in what they heard or the information in an e-mail might, in fact, not be accurate, are certainly not things that should be news to anybody. But it is the obsession with the e- mails that takes us off what should have been the task of this committee.
I also find it interesting that Mr. Obi’s (ph) final comments were to quote the ARB report. Yes, the ARB report I think was very good. I think we absolutely had to have it. I think it was appropriate for the committees and Congress to do the investigations they did. But all of that begs the question as to why we’ve spent the $4.7 million we have spent on this.
And even in the chairman’s opening remarks, it was primarily a defense of the committee’s existence. Not any new information. Not here’s what we, in those 17 months and $4.7 million have figured out that is new and different. Nothing. In fact, we have heard nothing. Even in today’s hearing. Not a single solitary thing that hasn’t already been discussed repeatedly. So we have learned absolutely nothing.
Yes, we have uncovered a trove of new information. In this age, I don’t think there’s ever an end to e-mails. We could probably go on for another two years and we’d find more. The question is what we found anything substantively that tells us something different about what happened in Benghazi? And the answer to that question is no.
Look, I didn’t think this committee should have been formed in the first place. But if it was going to be formed, the least we could do is to actually focus on the four brave Americans who were killed, why they were killed, and focus on Benghazi. And we have not. Mr. Roskam’s questions I found to be the most interesting. Basically — I don’t know, it was like he was running for president.
He wanted to debate you on overall Libya policy as to why we got in the first place. And that’s debatable. And I think you will argue that quite well. But that’s not about the attack on Benghazi. That’s not about what we could have done in Benghazi to better protect them.
So again, I think we have seen hat this committee is focused on you. And I’m the ranking member of the Armed Services committee. I don’t see the Department of Defense here. I don’t see the CIA here. There were many, many other agencies involved in this. And yet yours has been the one they have obsessively focused on. And I think that’s a shame for a whole lot of reasons.
SMITH: For one thing, this committee, as it has been in the news the last several weeks, has been yet one more step in denigrating this institution. And I happen to think this institution needs more support, not less. So I wish we would stop doing that.
And I — you know, you mentioned Beirut, and that was the first though that occurred to me when this happened, was a Democratic Congress at the time did a fair and quick investigation of what was an unspeakable tragedy — two separate suicide bombings four months apart. And there was clearly inadequate security. But the focus there was not on partisanship, not on embarrassing the Reagan administration, but in actually figuring out what happened and how we can better protect Americans.
Now, I wonder if I could just ask questions about what I think is the central issue, and that is how do we have that presence in the world that you described in what is an increasingly dangerous world? Because as I’ve traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Yemen and other places, I’m consistently amazed by the willingness of our diplomatic corps to put their lives at risk. And I wonder how do you balance that very difficult decision. Because frankly, what I’ve heard more often from that diplomatic corps is that they chafe at the restrictions.
I mean, I remember vividly being in Peshawar, which is, you know — I mean, I didn’t like the ride from the airport to the embassy, which was 10 minutes, and we were there for, I don’t know, a few hours and then out. You know, the State Department personnel, they live there and went out amongst the community. How do you try and strike that balance of, you know, being present and at the same time meeting the security obligations?
And then most importantly, who drives that decision? Because it seems to me in most instances it is driven by the diplomatic corps there. If they take risks, it’s because they’ve decided to do it. They’re there. They know the security situation certainly better than the secretary and better than most everybody else. What is the proper way to strike that balance going forward to protect our personnel and still fulfill their mission?
CLINTON: Congressman, I think that is the most important question, and I would certainly welcome Congressional discussion and debate about this because it’s what we tried to do — going back to Congresswoman Duckworth’s question, what we tried to begin to do in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the first one that was ever done, because that’s exactly what we were facing. You know, we have had diplomats and development professionals in war zones now for a number of years. We’ve had them in places that are incredibly unstable and dangerous because of ongoing conflicts. It is, I think, the bias of the diplomacy corps that they be there because that’s what they signed up for. And they know that if America is not represented, then we leave a vacuum and we lose our eyes and our ears about what people are thinking and doing.
It is certainly the hardest part of the job in many of our agencies and departments today. And it was for me in the State Department. That’s why I relied on the security professionals because by the time I got there in 2009, the diplomatic security professionals had been taking care of American diplomats in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan for years. And they had learned a lot of the lessons and they were forced to make tough decisions all the time.
You mentioned Peshawar, one of clearly the high threat posts that the United States maintains a presence in. But when you think that since 2001 we’ve had 100 of our facilities attacked, if we were to shut them all down, if we were to pull out from all of them, we would be blinding ourselves. So it’s a constant balancing act. What are the risks and what are the rewards for opening, maintaining and/or closing a site.
I don’t know that there’s any hard and fast rule that we can adopt. We just have to get better at making that assessment, Congressman, and your question really goes to the heart of it. When you were as a member of Congress in Peshawar, you were guarded by our diplomatic security professionals. They had to assess was it safe enough for a member of Congress to come, how do we get him from the airport to the embassy.
It won’t surprise you to hear we’ve had attacks there as so many other places around the world. And that is a heavy responsibility, and the diplomatic security professionals get it right 999 times out of a thousand. And it’s deeply distressing to them when anything goes wrong.
We have lost non-Americans with some of these attacks on facilities. We’ve lost our locally-employed staff. They never want to see any successful attack, so they have to be — they have to be right 100 percent of the time, the terrorists only have to be right once. And, you know, that’s why this is really at the core of what I tried to do before even I got the Accountability Review Board, going back to the QDDR, to come up with a better way of trying to make those assessments.
SMITH: Madam Secretary, if I may, just two final points. I mean, so the bottom line is Benghazi on 9/11/2012 was not the only dangerous place in the world where our security personnel were and where these difficult decisions had to be made.
SMITH: And the other point I want to make before my time expires, now this was in 2012, so we were only a couple of years into this, but Secretary of Defense Ash Carter just I think yesterday wrote an editorial in the Wall Street journal about the impact of five years of budget uncertainty on the DOD’s ability to function. I mean, for five years, we have gone through C.R.s, threatened government shutdowns, one actual government shutdown, and constant budget uncertainty.
Now, my area is the Department of Defense. I know how it’s impacted them. They basically from one week to the next barely know what they can spend money on. Now, one of the criticisms is that there should have been more security, but if you don’t have a budget, if you don’t have an appropriations bill, how does that complicate your job as secretary in trying to figure out what money you can spend?
CLINTON: Well, it makes it very difficult, Congressman. And this is a subject that we talked about all the time, how do you plan. How do you know — you know, you have so many diplomatic security officers in so many dangerous places, how do you know what you’re going to have to be able to deploy and where are you going to have to make the choices.
That’s why the prioritization, which shouldn’t have to be, in my view, the responsibility of the officials in the State Department or the Defense Department to try to guess what makes the most sense. We should have a much more orderly process for our budget.
And I will say again, as secretary of State, the kind of dysfunction and failure to make decisions that we have been living with in our government hurts us. It hurts us in the obvious ways, like where you’re going to deploy forces if you’re in DOD or where we’re going to send security if you’re in the Department of State.
But it hurts us as the great country that we are, being viewed from an abroad as unable to handle our own business. And so it has a lot of consequences. And it’s something that I wish that we could get over and have our arguments about policy, have our arguments about substance, but get back to regular order, where we have the greatest nation in the world with a budget that then they can plan against as opposed to the uncertainty that has stalked us now for so long.
SMITH: Thank you, Madam Secretary. So the bottom line is Congress needs to do its job.
CLINTON: Right. I agree with that.
GOWDY: The gentlemen yields back. And I’ll be happy to get a copy of my opening statement for the gentleman from Washington so he can refresh his recollection on all the things our committee found that your previous committee missed. And with that I’ll go to the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Westmoreland.
WESTMORELAND: Thank you. Madam Secretary, I talk a little slower than everybody else, so…
CLINTON: I lived in Arkansas a long time. I don’t need an interpreter, Congressman. WESTMORELAND: So some of the questions I’m asking you can just get a yes-or-no answer, that would be great. But I do want you to give us a full answer.
But Mr. Smith from Washington mentioned there was no new facts brought out in some of these interviews, and I want to just say that I think he was at one interview for one hour. I have been at a bunch of those and there has been a lot of new facts that’s come out.
One of the things he said, it doesn’t — that you knew about these two incidents that have been mentioned previously. It’s not a matter if you knew about them, it’s a matter of what you did about them. And to us, the answer to that is nothing. Now, you say you were briefed by the CIA every morning that you were in Washington; is that correct?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
WESTMORELAND: Did they ever mention to you Assistant Acting Director Morrell wrote in his book that there were scores of intelligence pieces describing in detail how the situation in Libya was becoming more and more dangerous. Did you ever read any of these pieces?
CLINTON: Yes. As I’ve previously stated, we were certainly aware that the situation across Libya was becoming more dangerous, and that there were particular concerns about eastern Libya.
WESTMORELAND: Did you read the piece that was Libya, Al Qaida establishing sanctuary?
CLINTON: I’m aware that was certainly among the information provided to me.
WESTMORELAND: There was another particular piece that was talked about after the IED attack that AFRICOM wrote. Al Qaida expands in Libya. Were you familiar with that?
CLINTON: I can’t speak to specific pieces, Congressman, but I was well aware of the concerns we all had about the setting up of jihadist training camps and other activities in Libya, particularly in eastern Libya.
WESTMORELAND: You — you were briefed, in I think the CIA, between January and September of 2012, at over 4500 pages of intelligence. Were you aware of how many pages of intelligence? And I know you had a specific division, I guess, of the State Department under you that was called Intelligence and Research.
WESTMORELAND: Did they keep you up to speed on all these 400 cables or different things that they were getting? Did they keep you up to speed on that, that you were aware of them?
CLINTON: Congressman, I can’t speak to specific reports. But I can certainly agree with you that I was briefed and aware of the increasingly dangerous upsurge in militant activity in Libya.
WESTMORELAND: And so what did you do to make sure that our men and women over there were protected, knowing how much the threat had grown, especially in Benghazi, because a lot of people say that really, in the summer of 2012, the security in Benghazi was worse than it was during the revolution.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, with respect to not only the specific incidents that you referenced earlier, but the overall concerns about Benghazi, I think I stated previously, there was never any recommendation by anyone, the intelligence community, the Defense Department, the State Department officials responsible for Libya, to leave Benghazi.
Even after the two incidents that you mentioned. Because, in part, as I responded to Congressman Smith, we had so many attacks on facilities that, as I said, went back to 2001, that certainly also happened in other parts of the world while I was there. Each was evaluated, and there was not a recommendation. Furthermore, there was not even, on the morning of September 11, while Chris Stevens and Sean Smith were at the compound, Chris had spoken with intelligence experts. There was no credible, actionable threat known to our intelligence community…
WESTMORELAND: Yes, ma’am.
CLINTON: … against our compound.
WESTMORELAND: Reclaiming my time, you said that the — Ambassador Chris was pulled out of Tripoli because of threats on his life.
CLINTON: There were threats from people associated with Gadhafi after the publication…
CLINTON: … of cables he had written that were made public by WikiLeaks.
WESTMORELAND: You — and you say you were aware of the two attacks at the mission facility in Benghazi.
WESTMORELAND: Mr. Morell in his book states that there was 20 attacks on that facility. Are you familiar with the other 18?
CLINTON: There were two that we thought rose to the level of being serious, and I…
WESTMORELAND: Were — but were you familiar with the other 18?
CLINTON: … I’m not aware of 18 others. And I would point out, and I am sure that former Deputy Director Morell made this point when he was testifying, the CIA stayed in Libya.
The CIA had a much bigger presence than the State Department, despite the overall decline in stability. Some might argue actually because of the overall decline in stability, it was thought to be even more important for the CIA to stay there. And they also did not believe that their facility would be the subject of a deadly attack either, because I think sometimes…
WESTMORELAND: Ma’am (inaudible).
CLINTON: … you know, sometimes the — the discussion gets pulled together, when really we had Chris and Sean dying at the State Department compound, which we are discussing, and we had our other two deaths of Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty at the CIA annex.
WESTMORELAND: Reclaiming my time for just a minute. And I — and I do appreciate that. But if you — if you talk to the CIA contractors that were at the annex, and you ask them how they were armed and equipped, and then if you would — or could — talk to the diplomatic security agents that were at the facility, I think you will see that there was a big, big difference in the equipment that they had to protect theirself (ph).
But you knew of the two — what you called major incidents, but you don’t recollect the other 18 that Mr. Morell says happened. How many instances would it have taken you to say, “hey, we need to look at the security over there?”
Would it have been three major instances, 30 instances, 40 instances, 50 instances? How many instances would you have been made aware of that would have made you say, “hey, I don’t care what anybody else says, we’re going to protect our people. Chris Stevens is a good friend of mine, we’re going to look after him.”
How many would it have taken?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, of course I made it abundantly clear that we had to do everything we could to protect our people. What I did not — and do not believe any secretary should — do was to substitute my judgment from thousands of miles away for the judgment of the security professionals who made the decisions about what kind of security would be provided.
CLINTON: And that — I know that — that sounds somewhat hard to understand. But, you know, we have a process, and the experts, who I have the greatest confidence in, and who had been through so many difficult positions, because practically all of them had rotated through Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, other places — they were the ones making the assessment. No one ever came to me and said, “we should shut down our compound in Benghazi.”
WESTMORELAND: Ma’am, I’m not saying shut it down. I’m saying protect it.
WESTMORELAND: I’m not saying — I’m not saying shut it down. I’m just saying protect it.
WESTMORELAND: When you say security professionals — I’m not trying to be disparaging with anybody, but I — I don’t know who those folks were, but…
CLINTON: Well, they were people who risked their lives to try to save…
WESTMORELAND: … just my little — in my little opinion, they weren’t very professional when it came to protecting people.
But let me say this. You said that the mission that you gave Ambassador Stevens was to go in to — in to investigate the situation. Now, if you’re going to investigate a situation, it would seem to me like you would have to get out into the country to investigate that.
And I don’t know if you’re aware of it or not, but there were not even enough diplomatic security for him to leave the compound without asking the CIA operatives to assist them. Were you aware of that?
CLINTON: Well, we had an agreement with the CIA to help supplement security and to come to the aid — it was a — it was a mutual agreement.
WESTMORELAND: Was that a — was that a written agreement?
CLINTON: No, it was — it was not a written agreement. But we — we are posted with the CIA in many places in the country…
CLINTON: … I mean, in the — in the world. And it’s important to have a good working relationship. And we did. And unfortunately, despite all the weapons and despite the fortification, two CIA contractors died at the CIA annex that night.
WESTMORELAND: Just to follow up on one thing about Ambassador Stevens. You got a lot of e-mails from Sidney Blumenthal. And you say that Mr. Blumenthal was a friend of yours. And he had your personal e-mail address.
You say Chris Stevens was a friend of yours. He asked numerous of times for extra protection. Now, if I had been Mr. Stevens — and I think anybody out there — anybody watching this would agree.
If I had been Mr. Stevens and I had had a relationship with you, and I had requested 20 or more times for additional security to protect not only my life but the people that were there with me, I would have gotten in touch with you some way.
I would have let you know that I was in danger, and that the situation had deteriorated to a point, I needed you to do something. Did he have your personal e-mail?
CLINTON: Congressman, I — I do not believe that he had my personal e-mail. He had the e-mail and he had the direct line to everybody that he’d worked with for years. He had been posted…
WESTMORELAND: But not your…
CLINTON: … with officials in the State Department. They had gone through difficult, challenging, dangerous assignments together. He was in constant contact with people.
Yes, he and the people working for him asked for more security. Some of those requests were approved. Others were not.
We’re obviously looking to learn what more we could do, because it was not only about Benghazi, it was also about the embassy in Tripoli. I think it’s fair to say that, you know, Chris asked for what he and his people requested, because he thought that it would be helpful. But he never said to anybody in the State Department you know what, we just can’t keep doing this, we just can’t — we can’t stay there. He was in constant contact with, you know, people on my staff, other officials in the State Department.
And, you know, I did have an opportunity to talk with him about the substance of the policy. But with respect to security, he took those requests where they belonged. He took them to the security professionals.
And I have to add, Congressman, the diplomatic security professionals are among the best in the world. I would put them up against anybody. And I just cannot allow any comment to be in the record in any way criticizing or disparaging them. They have kept Americans safe in two wars and in a lot of other really terrible situations over the last many years.
I trusted them with my life. You trust them with yours when you’re on CODELs. They deserve better. And they deserve all the support that the Congress can give them, because they’re doing a really hard job very well.
WESTMORELAND: Well, ma’am, all I can say is they missed something here. And we lost four Americans.
GOWDY: The gentleman’s time has expired. The chair will recognize the gentleman from Kansas, Mr. Pompeo.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, you’ve referred to the QDDR a couple of times as being important to diplomatic security. Is that correct?
CLINTON: It provoked a discussion, Congressman, about balancing of risk. POMPEO: Madam Secretary, I had a chance to read that. I wanted to only read the executive summary that ran 25 pages. But it didn’t have a word about diplomatic security in those entire 25 pages of the executive summary. Not one word, Madam Secretary. And then I read the remaining pages from out of the 270-plus. Do you know how many pages of those 270 had to do with diplomatic security?
CLINTON: It was about the balancing of risk and reward.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary…
CLINTON: Which was not only about diplomatic security specifically about, but about the larger question of our mission around the world.
POMPEO: Madam secretary, there was no balance. There was no balance. There was two pages out of 270 pages. You talked about a lot of things in there. You talked about a lot of improvements.
It didn’t have anything to do with diplomatic security in any material way in that report. You talked about being disappointed, too, I’ve heard you use that several times. You were disappointed, you read the ARB.
Why didn’t you fire someone? In Kansas, Madam Secretary, I get asked constantly, why has no one been held accountable? How come not a single person lost a single paycheck, connected to the fact that we had the first ambassador killed since 1979?
How come no one has been held accountable to date?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, the Accountability Review Board pointed out several people working in the State Department, who they thought had not carried out their responsibilities adequately. But they said that they could not find a breach of duty. And…
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am.
CLINTON: The personnel rules and the laws that govern those decisions were followed very carefully.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. I’m not asking what the ARB did. I’m asking what you did.
CLINTON: I followed the law, Congressman. That was my responsibility.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, you’re telling me you had no authority to take anyone’s paycheck, to cause anyone to be fired? You’re telling me you were legally prohibited from doing that, is that your position here this morning?
CLINTON: It is my position that in the absence of finding dereliction or breach of duty, there could not be immediate action taken. But there was a process that was immediately instituted, and which led to decisions being made. POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. The decision was to put these back in full back pay, keep them on as employees. That was the decision made as a result of the processes you put in place. I will tell you, the folks in Kansas don’t think that is accountability.
I want to do some math with you. Can I get the first chart, please? Do you know how many security requests there were in the first quarter of 2012?
CLINTON: For everyone, or for Benghazi?
POMPEO: I’m sorry, yes, ma’am, related to Benghazi in Libya. Do you know how many there were?
CLINTON: No, I do not know.
POMPEO: Ma’am, there were just over a 100-plus. Second quarter, do you know how many there were?
CLINTON: No, I do not.
POMPEO: Ma’am, there were 172-ish. Might have been 171 or 173. That’s — how many were there in July and August and then in that week and few days before the attacks, do you know?
CLINTON: There were a number of them, I know that.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am, 83 by our count.
That’s over 600 requests. You’ve testified here this morning that you had none of those reach your desk; is that correct also?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
POMPEO: Madam Secretary, Mr. Blumenthal wrote you 150 e-mails. It appears from the materials we’ve read that all of those reached your desk.
Can you tell us why security requests from your professionals, the men that you just testified — and which I agree, are incredibly professional, incredibly capable people, trained in the art of keeping us all safe, none of those made it to you.
But a man who was a friend of yours, who had never been to Libya, didn’t know much about it, at least that was his testimony, didn’t know much about it, every one of those reports that he sent on to you that had to do with situations on the ground in Libya, those made it to your desk.
You asked for more of them. You read them. You corresponded with him. And yet the folks that worked for you didn’t have the same courtesy.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, as you’re aware, he’s a friend of mine. He sent me information he thought might be of interest. Some of it was, some of it wasn’t, some of it I forwarded to be followed up on. The professionals and experts who reviewed it found some of it useful, some of it not.
POMPEO: Madam secretary…
CLINTON: He had no official position in the government. And he was not at all my adviser on Libya. He was a friend who sent me information that he thought might be in some way helpful.
POMPEO: Madam secretary, I have lots of friends. They send me things. I have never had somebody send me pieces of intelligence with the level of detail Mr. Blumenthal sent me every week. That’s a special friend.
CLINTON: Well, it was information that had been shared with him that he forwarded on. And as someone who got the vast majority of the information that I acted on from official channels, I read a lot of articles that brought new ideas to my attention, and occasionally people including him and others would give me ideas. They all went into the same process to be evaluated.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. I will tell you that the record we have received to date does not reflect that. It simply doesn’t. We’ve read the e-mails. We’ve read everything we can get our hands on. It’s taken us a long time to get it, but you, you just described all this other information you relied upon. And it doesn’t comport with the record that this committee has been able to establish today.
I want you to take a look at this chart to the left. You’ll see the increasing number of requests, over 600. I think data matters. The pictures are worth a lot. You see the increase in the requests, and the bottom line is the increase in security. And you’ll note that the slope of those two lines is very different.
Can you account for why that is, why we have an increase in requests yet no increase in security?
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, I can only tell you that I know a number of requests were fulfilled, and some were not. But from my perspective, again, these were handled by the people that were assigned the task of elevating them.
And, you know, I think it’s important to again reiterate that, although there were problems and deficiencies discovered by the Accountability Review Board, the general approach to have security professionals handle security requests, I think still stands.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. I wish you’d have listened to those security professionals.
You described Mr. Stevens as having the best knowledge of Libya of anyone. Your words this morning. And yet when he asked for increased security, he didn’t get it.
May I see the second chart, please? This chart says the same thing; I just talked to you about requests for assistance. This chart — I won’t go through the numbers in detail — we’ve talked about them a bit. But it shows the increasing number of security incidents at the facility, your facility, the State Department facility, in Benghazi, Libya.
And then again, it shows the increase in security being nonexistent. I assume your answer is the same with respect to the fact that we have increasing security incidents, but no corresponding increase in the amount of security?
CLINTON: Congressman, I just have to respectfully disagree. Many security requests were fulfilled.
POMPEO: Well, ma’am…
CLINTON: We would be happy to get that information for the record. So I can’t really tell what it is you’re putting on that poster, but I know that a number of the security requests were fulfilled for Benghazi.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. What it shows is that the number of diplomatic security agents at the beginning of 2012, and those that — they were there that day of the — the murder of four Americans is no different.
CLINTON: Congressman, the decision, as I recall, was that the post, namely embassy Tripoli on behalf of Benghazi, requested five diplomatic security personnel, and they did have that on the day that Chris Stevens was in Benghazi.
Unfortunately, that proved insufficient in the face of the kind of attack that they were facing.
POMPEO: Yes, ma’am. May — put the next poster up, please. Madam Secretary, you’re not likely to know who these two folks are, do you?
CLINTON: I do not.
POMPEO: The one on the left is Mohamed al-Zahawi. He was the head of Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist group based in Benghazi. The man on your left is Wissam bin Hamid. Were you aware that your folks in Benghazi, Libya met with that man on the — within 48 hours before the attack?
CLINTON: I know nothing about any meeting with him.
POMPEO: On September 11th, on the day that he was killed, Ambassador Stevens sent a cable through the State Department talking about his meeting with Mr. Bin Hamid. Are you aware of that cable?
CLINTON: No, I’m not.
POMPEO: He said — in his cable, he said they — referring to Mr. Wissam Bin Hamid — they wanted an introductory meeting, they were here. They asked us what we needed to bring security to Benghazi. So your officials were meeting with this man on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, discussing security, two days before that. But in August of that same year, the United States government had said that this very man was, quote, “a young rebel leader who allegedly fought in Iraq under the flag of al-Qaida.”
Were you aware that our folks were either wittingly or unwittingly meeting with al-Qaida on the ground in Benghazi, Libya, just hours before the attack?
CLINTON: I know nothing about this, Congressman.
POMPEO: I think that’s deeply disturbing. I think the fact that your team was meeting…
CLINTON: I’m sorry. Which team is this, Mr….
POMPEO: Your team would have been — we don’t know exactly who…
CLINTON: Well, it would be helpful…
POMPEO: It would have been one of the — one of your State Department employees, Madam Secretary, I don’t know which one. Perhaps you could enlighten us or help us get the records we need to do so.
POMPEO: To date, we’ve been able to learn that.
CLINTON: Well since we didn’t have an ongoing significant presence of State Department personnel in Benghazi, I don’t know to whom you are referring.
POMPEO: Mr. Chairman, I’ll yield back the balance of my time.
GOWDY: The gentleman from Kansas yields. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez.
SANCHEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Madam Secretary, for coming again to answer our questions. We know over the last 17 months there have been a number of allegations that have been made with respect to you, and when the facts and the testimony and the record don’t support that, we seem to move on to the next, you know, new allegation.
One of the more recent ones is that Republicans are claiming that because you received e-mails from Sidney Blumenthal that he was your primary source for intelligence. Now, Chairman Gowdy claimed that Mr. Blumenthal was, and I’m going to quote him here, quote, “Secretary Clinton’s primary adviser on Libya because nearly half of all the e- mails sent to and from Secretary Clinton regarding Benghazi and Libya prior to the Benghazi terrorist attacks involved Sidney Blumenthal,” end quote.
He also claimed that Mr. Blumenthal was, and I’m quoting again, “one of the folks providing her the largest volume of information about Libya.” Secretary Clinton, was Sidney Blumenthal your primary policy adviser or your primary intelligence officer?
CLINTON: No. Of course not.
SANCHEZ: Was he the primary source of information that you were receiving on Libya?
CLINTON: No, absolutely not.
SANCHEZ: Can you tell us, then, who were you receiving information from and in what form? Because there’s been a particular emphasis on e-mail communication and e-mail communication only.
CLINTON: Well, as I testified earlier, I did not primarily conduct business on e-mail with officials in our government. And I think the e-mails that have been produced thus far demonstrate that as well.
As I said, I got intelligence briefings from the intelligence community. I had a very experienced group of senior diplomats who knew quite a bit about Libya. Deputy Secretary Bill Burns had been our nation’s top diplomat, who actually had negotiated with Gadhafi.
Prior to the entering in by the United States to support our European allies and Arab partners, I sent a team to meet with representatives of Gadhafi to see if there were some way that he would back down and back off of his increasingly hysterical threats against his own people.
We had people like the ambassador that I referenced earlier who had served in Libya and had the occasion to observe and to meet with Gadhafi. So we had a very large group of American diplomats, intelligence officers, and some private citizens who were experts in Libya who were available to our government. And we took advantage of every person we could with expertise to guide our decision-making.
SANCHEZ: So would it be fair to say that you received information from Ambassador Stevens?
SANCHEZ: The assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs?
SANCHEZ: The director of policy planning, Jacob Sullivan?
SANCHEZ: The National Security Council?
SANCHEZ: The intelligence community?
SANCHEZ: The Defense Department?
SANCHEZ: This weekend, one of our colleagues on this panel, Mr. Pompeo, went on Meet the Press and I wonder if we could queue up the video. He had this exchange.
Can we please play the video clip?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: … Mr. Blumenthal. It goes directly to the security issue. We see now that former Secretary Clinton relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence. That is, she was relying…
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: That is factually not true.
POMPEO: No, it is absolutely factually correct.
MITCHELL: Relied on Mr. Blumenthal for most of her intelligence? You (inaudible).
POMPEO: Ms. Mitchell, take a look — take a look at the e-mail trail and you will see.
MITCHELL: That’s just — I cover the State Department. That is just factually not correct. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: That clip for me just defies all logic. And I think Andrea Mitchell correctly called him out on something that was a falsehood.
Secretary Clinton, what did you think when you heard that clip?
CLINTON: Well, that it was factually untrue. And I think your questioning and what I have stated today is a much clearer and more factual description of how we gathered information to make our decisions regarding Libya.
SANCHEZ: With your answer that you believe it to be factually incorrect, I just want to add that The Washington Post fact-checker immediately awarded that claim for Pinocchios, which is the worst rating possible. And I’m going to quote the Post on what they said about that quote, “Looking at her private e-mails is just part of the picture and it ignores the fast amount of information, much of it classified, that is available to the secretary of state.”
Secretary Clinton, would you agree with that statement from The Washington Post?
CLINTON: Yes, I would.
SANCHEZ: OK. So, it seems to me, you know, there have been allegations that the work that this committee has done has been political in nature. And that much of the facts have already been decided before all of the evidence is in, including your testimony here today.
When I see clips like that, it sort of supports the theory that this panel is not really interested in investigating what happened just prior to, the evening of, and immediately in the aftermath of September 11th, 2012, but that in fact there is another motive behind that.
We have you here, and so while you are here I want to make the most of your time and allow you to sort of debunk many of the myths that have been generated over the last 17 months, most of which have no factual basis for those being said.
One is that you seemingly were disengaged the evening of September 11th, 2012. For example, Mike Huckabee accused you, as Mr. Cummings said, of ignoring the warning calls from dying Americans in Benghazi. And Senator Rand Paul stated that Benghazi was a three a.m. phone call that you never picked up. And Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted where the hell were you on the night of the Benghazi attack.
Those appear to be based on the testimony of witnesses and the documentation that we have obtained in this committee and other previous committees. They seem to run counter to the truth because the testimony we’ve received states pretty much that you were deeply engaged the night of the attack. So, can you describe for us what the initial hours of that night were like for you and how you learned about the attacks? And what your initial thoughts and actions were?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, I learned about the attacks from a State Department official rushing into my office shortly after or around 4 o’clock, to tell me that our compound in Benghazi had been attacked. We immediately summoned all of the top officials in the State Department for them to begin reaching out. The most important, quick call was to try to reach Chris himself. That was not possible. Then to have the diplomatic security people try to reach their agents. That was not possible. They were obviously defending themselves, along with the ambassador and Sean Smith.
We reached the second in command in Tripoli. He had heard shortly before we reached him, from Chris Stevens, telling him that they were under attack. We began to reach out to everyone we could possibly think who could help with this terrible incident.
CLINTON: During the course of the, you know, following hours, obviously I spoke to the White House. I spoke to CIA Director Petraeus. I spoke to the Libyan officials because I hoped that there was some way that they could gather up and deploy those who had been part of the insurgency to defend our compound.
I had conference calls with our team in Tripoli. I was on a — what’s called a SVTS, a, you know, videoconference with officials who had operational responsibilities in the Defense Department, in the CIA, at the National Security Council.
It was just a swirl and whirl of constant effort to try to figure out what we could do. And it was deeply — it was deeply distressing when we heard that the efforts by our CIA colleagues were not successful, that they had had to evacuate the security officers, our diplomatic security officers, that they had recovered Sean Smith’s body and they could not find the ambassador.
We didn’t know whether he had escaped and was still alive or not.
SANCHEZ: If I may, because my time is running short, I just want to point out that you spoke with folks on the ground, you spoke with folks in the White House, the CIA, the Libyan president of the general national congress.
Now, interestingly enough, former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, has not been before this committee and has not spoken with this committee. But he did testify before the House Intelligence Committee in 2012 and he said that you personally called him and asked him for help that night.
And I just want to end on this quote.
Quote, “When secretary Clinton called me later that afternoon to indicate that Ambassador Stevens was missing and asked for help, I directed our folks to ensure that we were doing everything possible and that is, of course, what they were doing that night.”
Is that correct?
CLINTON: That is. And also the Defense Department was doing everything it could possibly do. We had a plane bringing additional security from Tripoli to Benghazi. There was an enormous amount of activity, everyone. It was all hands on deck, everyone jumped in to try to figure out what they could do. The attack on the compound was very fast.
SANCHEZ: So would it be safe to say that you were fully engaged that evening?
CLINTON: That is certainly safe to say, Congresswoman.
SANCHEZ: Thank you.
And I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentlelady from California yields back.
The chair would now recognize the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Jordan.
JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
You just gave a long answer, Madam Secretary, to Ms. Sanchez about what you heard that night, what you’re doing. But nowhere in there did you mention a video. You didn’t mention a video because there was never a video-inspired protest in Benghazi. There was in Cairo but not in Benghazi.
Victoria Nuland, your spokesperson at the State Department, hours after the attacks said this, “Benghazi has been attacked by militants. In Cairo, police have removed demonstrators.”
Benghazi, you got weapons and explosions. Cairo, you got spray paint and rocks.
One hour before the attack in Benghazi, Chris Stevens walks a diplomat to the front gate. The ambassador didn’t report a demonstration. He didn’t report it because it never happened. An eyewitness in the command center that night on the ground said no protest, no demonstration; two intelligence reports that day, no protest, no demonstration.
The attack starts at 3:42 Eastern time, ends at approximately 11:40 pm that night.
At 4:06, an ops alert goes out across the State Department.
It says this, “Mission under attack, armed men, shots fired, explosions heard.”
No mention of video, no mention of a protest, no mention of a demonstration.
But the best evidence is Greg Hicks, the number two guy in Libya, the guy who worked side by side with Ambassador Stevens. He was asked, if there had been a protest, would the ambassador have reported it?
Mr. Hicks’s response, “Absolutely.”
For there to have been a demonstration on Chris Stevens’ front door and him not to have reported it is unbelievable, Mr. Hicks.
He said, secondly, if it had been reported, he would have been out the back door within minutes and there was a back gate.
Everything points to a terrorist attack. We just heard from Mr. Pompeo about the long history of terrorist incidents, terrorist violence in the country.
And yet five days later Susan Rice goes on five TV shows and she says this, “Benghazi was a spontaneous reaction as a consequence of a video,” a statement we all know is false. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what others have said.
“Rice was off the reservation,” off the reservation on five networks, White House worried about the politics. Republicans didn’t make those statements. They were made by the people who worked for you in the Near Eastern Affairs bureau, the actual experts on Libya in the State Department.
So if there’s no evidence for a video-inspired protest, then where did the false narrative start?
It started with you, Madam Secretary.
At 10:08, on the night of the attack, you released this statement, “Some have sought to justify the vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.”
At 10:08, with no evidence, at 10:08, before the attack is over, at 10:08, when Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty are still on the roof of the annex, fighting for their lives, the official statement of the State Department blames a video.
CLINTON: During the day on September 11th, as you did mention, Congressman, there was a very large protest against our embassy in Cairo. Protesters breached the walls. They tore down the American flag. And it was of grave concern to us because the inflammatory video had been shown on Egyptian television, which has a broader reach than just inside Egypt.
And if you look at what I said, I referred to the video that night in a very specific way. I said, some have sought to justify the attack because of the video.
I used those words deliberately, not to ascribe a motive to every attacker but as a warning to those across the region that there was no justification for further attacks.
And, in fact, during the course of that week, we had many attacks that were all about the video. We had people breaching the walls of our embassies in Tunis, in Khartoum; we had people, thankfully not Americans, dying at protests. But that’s what was going on, Congressman. JORDAN: Secretary Clinton, I appreciate most of those attacks were after the attack on the facility in Benghazi. You mentioned Cairo. It was interesting what else Ms. Nuland said that day.
She said, “If pressed by the press, if there’s a connection between Cairo and Benghazi,” she said this, “there’s no connection between the two.”
So here’s what troubles me. Your experts knew the truth. Your spokesperson knew the truth. Greg Hicks knew the truth.
But what troubles me more is I think you knew the truth.
I want to show you a few things here. You’re looking at an e- mail you sent to your family.
Here’s what you said at 11:00 that night, approximately one hour after you told the American people it was a video, you say to your family, “Two officers were killed today in Benghazi by an Al Qaeda- like group.”
You tell — you tell the American people one thing, you tell your family an entirely different story.
Also on the night of the attack, you had a call with the president of Libya. Here’s what you said to him.
“Ansar al-Sharia is claiming responsibility.”
It’s interesting; Mr. Khattala, one of the guys arrested in charge actually belonged to that group.
And finally, most significantly, the next day, within 24 hours, you had a conversation with the Egyptian prime minister.
You told him this, “We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”
Let me read that one more time.
“We know,” not we think, not it might be, “we know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”
State Department experts knew the truth. You knew the truth. But that’s not what the American people got. And again, the American people want to know why.
Why didn’t you tell the American people exactly what you told the Egyptian prime minister?
CLINTON: Well, I think if you look at the statement that I made, I clearly said that it was an attack. And I also said that there were some who tried to justify…
(CROSSTALK) JORDAN: Secretary Clinton…
CLINTON: … on the basis — on the basis of the video, Congressman.
And I think…
JORDAN: Real, real quick, calling it an attack is like saying the sky is blue. Of course it was an attack.
JORDAN: We want to know the truth. The statement you sent out was a statement on Benghazi and you say vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material on the Internet. If that’s not pointing as the motive of being a video, I don’t know what is. And that’s certainly what — and that’s certainly how the American people saw it.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, there was a lot of conflicting information that we were trying to make sense of. The situation was very fluid. It was fast-moving. There was also a claim of responsibility by Ansar al-Sharia. And when I talked to the Egyptian prime minister, I said that this was a claim of responsibility by Ansar al-Sharia, by a group that was affiliated — or at least wanted to be affiliated — with Al Qaida.
Sometime after that, the next — next day, early the next morning after that, on the 12th or 13th, they retracted their claim of responsibility.
JORDAN: Madam Secretary…
CLINTON: And I think if — if you look at what all of us were trying to do, and we were in a position, Congressman, of trying to make sense of a lot of incoming information…
CLINTON: … and watch the way the intelligence community tried to make sense of it.
JORDAN: Madam Secretary, there was not…
CLINTON: So all I can say is nobody…
JORDAN: … conflicting — there was not conflicting information the day of the attack, because your press secretary said, “if pressed, there is no connection between Cairo and Benghazi.” It was clear. You’re the ones who muddied it up, not the — not the information.
CLINTON: Well, there’s no connection…
JORDAN: Here’s what — here’s what I think that — here’s what I think is going on. Here’s what I think’s going on.
Let me show you one more slide. Again, this is from Victoria Nuland, your press person. She says to Jake Sullivan, Philippe Reines. Subject line reads this: Romney’s Statement on Libya.
E-mail says, “This is what Ben was talking about.” I assume Ben is the now-somewhat-famous Ben Rhodes, author of the talking points memo. This e-mail’s at 10:35, 27 minutes after your 10:08 — 27 minutes after you’ve told everyone it’s a video, while Americans are still fighting because the attack’s still going on, your top people are talking politics.
It seems to me that night you had three options, Secretary. You could tell the truth, like you did with your family, like you did with the Libyan president, like you did with the Egyptian prime minister — tell them it was a terrorist attack.
You could say, “you know what, we’re not quite sure. Don’t — don’t really know for sure.” I don’t — I don’t think the evidence — I think it’s all in the person (ph) — but you could have done that.
But you picked the third option. You picked the video narrative. You picked the one with no evidence. And you did it because Libya was supposed to be — and Mr. Roskam pointed out, this great success story for the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department.
And a key campaign theme that year was GM’s alive, bin Laden’s dead, Al Qaida’s on the run. And now you have a terrorist attack, and it’s a terrorist attack in Libya, and it’s just 56 days before an election.
You can live with a protest about a video. That won’t hurt you. But a terrorist attack will. So you can’t be square with the American people. You tell your family it’s a terrorist attack, but not the American people. You can tell the president of Libya it’s a terrorist attack, but not the American people. And you can tell the Egyptian prime minister it’s a terrorist attack, but you can’t tell your own people the truth.
Madam Secretary, Americans can live with the fact that good people sometimes give their lives for this country. They don’t like it. They mourn for those families. They pray for those families.
But they can live with it. But what they can’t take, what they can’t live with, is when their government’s not square with them.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, you’re welcome to answer the question, if you would like to.
CLINTON: Well, I wrote a whole chapter about this in my book, Hard Choices. I’d be glad to send it to you, Congressman, because I think the insinuations that you are making do a grave disservice to the hard work that people in the State Department, the intelligence community, the Defense Department, the White House did during the course of some very confusing and difficult days.
There is no doubt in my mind that we did the best we could with the information that we had at the time. And if you’d actually go back and read what I said that night…
JORDAN: I have.
CLINTON: … I was very — I was very careful in saying that some have sought to justify. In fact, the man that has been arrested as one of the ringleaders of what happened in Benghazi, Ahmed Abu Khattala, is reported to have said it was the video that motivated him.
None of us can speak to the individual motivations of those terrorists who overran our compound and who attacked our CIA annex. There were probably a number of different motivations.
I think the intelligence community, which took the lead on trying to sort this out, as they should have, went through a series of interpretations and analysis. And we were all guided by that.
CLINTON: We were not making up the intelligence. We were trying to get it, make sense of it, and then to share it.
When I was speaking to the Egyptian prime minister or in the other two examples you showed, we had been told by Ansar al-Sharia that they took credit for it. It wasn’t until about 24 or more hours later, that they retracted taking credit for it.
JORDAN: Secretary Clinton…
CLINTON: We also knew, Congressman, because my responsibility was what was happening throughout the region, I needed to be talking about the video, because I needed to put other governments and other people on notice that we were not going to let them get away with attacking us, as they did in Tunis, is they did in Khartoum.
And in Tunis there were thousands of protesters who were there only because of the video, breaching the calls of our embassy, burning down the American school. I was calling everybody in the Tunisian government I could get, and finally, President Marzouki sent his presidential guard to break it up. There were — is example after example. That’s what I was trying to do, during those very desperate and difficult hours.
JORDAN: Secretary Clinton — if I could, Mr. Chairman — Secretary Clinton, you said my insinuation. I’m not insinuating anything. I’m reading what you said. Plain language. We know the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. That’s as plain as it can get; that’s vastly different than vicious behavior justified by Internet material.
Why didn’t you just speak plain to the American people?
CLINTON: I did. If you look at my statement as opposed to what I was saying to the Egyptian prime minister, I did state clearly, and I said it again in more detail the next morning, as did the president.
I’m sorry that it doesn’t fit your narrative, Congressman. I can only tell you what the facts were. And the facts, as the Democratic members have pointed out in their most recent collection of them, support this process that was going on, where the intelligence community was pulling together information.
And it’s very much harder to do it these days than it used to be, because you have to monitor social media, for goodness’s sakes. That’s where the Ansar al-Sharia claim was placed. The intelligence committee did the best job they could, and we all did our best job to try to figure out what was going on, and then to convey that to the American people.
GOWDY: The gentleman’s time has expired. The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Schiff.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Madam secretary, We’re almost at the end of the first round of questions. I’ll have an opportunity, then the chairman will, before we have a break, just to let you know where we are in the scheme of things.
So, I want to take a moment to think about what we’ve covered in this round. In particular, a comment on where this began, with the chairman’s statement.
The chairman said at the outset of the hearing that the American people are entitled to the truth, the truth about what happened in Benghazi, the truth about the security there, the truth about what happened after the attack.
The implication of this, of course, is that the American premium don’t know the truth, that this is the first investigation we have ever had. The reality is, we’ve had eight investigations. We’ve gone through this endlessly.
And if we look at the documentary record, we have the ARB report. We have the report of the Armed Services Committee, led by Republican Buck McKeon, which debunked the stand down order allegation. We have the report of the committee on government reform.
We have the report of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. We have the report of the house Foreign Affairs Committee. We have the GOP conference’s own report. We have the report of the Intelligence Committee on which I serve.
Now, bear in mind, these aren’t with their accompanying exhibits or the classified stuff, because it would be up through the ceiling if I included them.
This is the report of our committee. This is what $4.7 million of taxpayer money buy you. This is what 17 months of investigation have shown.
Now, the chairman said, and he’s a very good lawyer and a good former prosecutor, we have a lot of former prosecutors here on the panel. He gave you a great recitation of the number of witnesses and the number of documents. There are too many good prosecutors on this panel not to know that when a lawyer describes the metrics of the success of an investigation by the sheer number of people they’ve talked to or the volume of documents, it says nothing about the substance of what they’ve learned, that there’s a problem.
And the reality is that after 17 months, we have nothing new to tell the families. We have nothing new to tell the American people. We have discovered nothing that alters the core conclusions of the eight investigations that went on before. Now, my colleagues have been saying quite often this week, with amazing regularity, that this is a fact-centric investigation. And I agree, so I would like to talk about president facts which are centric to this investigation, because while the American people are entitled to the truth about Benghazi they’re also entitled to the truth about our committee.
Fact: what gave rise to your appearance today was many months ago, a group called the Stop Hillary PAC which aired an offensive ad during the Democratic debate showing the tombstone of Ambassador Stevens, among other things, delivered 264,000 signatures demanding you appear before us.
Fact: it was the next day the majority approached us to have you come before this committee. Fact: after The New York times issued its story in March, this committee canceled all other hearing hearings except for a hearing with a witness named Clinton.
Fact: we abandoned our plans to bring in the secretary of Defense and the head of the CIA. Fact: we haven’t had a single hearing from the Department of Defense — with the Department of Defense in 17 months.
Fact: of the 70,000 pages of documents obtained by the Select Committee, the only documents that the chairman has chose on the release publicly are your e-mails with Sidney Blumenthal.
Fact: of the 32 press releases that have been issued since March of this year, 27 of them are about you, or the State Department and five are about everything else.
Fact: as recently as last week, the chairman issued a 13-page letter which is alleges you risked it had lives of people by sending an e-mail that contained the name of a classified CIA source. Fact: CIA told us there was nothing in that e-mail that was classified, nor was the name of that person, who is well known to many.
The chairman has said that this will be the final, definitive report. One thing that I think we can tell already — there will be nothing final about this report. Wherever we finish, if ever we finish, the problem we’ve had as a committee, is we don’t know what we’re looking for.
But there won’t be a final conclusion. There won’t be anything definitive about the work of this committee, because unlike the Accountability Review Board that operated in a non-partisan way, it’s unlikely the majority here will even consult with us on what their final report looks like.
Those who want to believe the worst will believe the worst. Those that want to believe that this is a partisan exercise will believe it. As I said from the beginning of the investigation, the only way this committee will add any value to what’s gone on before is if we can find a way to work together and reach a common conclusion.
But it’s plain that’s not their object. The chairman might say, ignore the words of our Republican leadership, ignore the words of our Republican members, ignore the words of our own GOP investigator. Judge us by our actions. But it is the actions of the committee that are the most damning of all, because they have been singly focused on you.
Let me ask you briefly, because I want to expand on just the — what I think is the core theory here. I want to give you a chance to respond to it.
You know, as a prosecutor, we’re taught every case should have a core theory, and the evidence and the witnesses go back to that core theory. And I’ve wrestled as I’ve listened to my colleagues today, as I have over 17 months. What is the core theory of their case? What are they trying to convey?
And I have to say I think it’s confusing. I think the core theory is this — that you deliberately interfered with security in Benghazi and that resulted in people dying. I think that is the case they want to make, and notwithstanding how many investigations we’ve had that have found absolutely no merit to that, that is the impression they wish to give.
Well, I have to say, I’m a little confused today because my colleague pointed to an e-mail suggesting that you weren’t aware we had a presence in Benghazi, so if you weren’t aware we had a presence I don’t know how you could have interfered with the security there.
But nonetheless, I do think that’s what they’re aiming at. I know the ambassador was someone you helped pick. I know the ambassador was a friend of yours, and I wonder if you would like to comment on what it’s like to be the subject of an allegation that you deliberately interfered with security that cost the life of a friend.
CLINTON: Well, Congressman, it’s a very personally painful accusation. It has been rejected and disproven by non-partisan, dispassionate investigators. But nevertheless, having it continued to be bandied around is deeply distressing to me.
You know, I’ve — I would imagine I’ve thought more about what happened than all of you put together. I’ve lost more sleep than all of you put together. I have been wracking my brain about what more could have been done or should have been done.
And so, when I took responsibility, I took it as a challenge and an obligation to make sure, before I left the State Department, that what we could learn — as I’m sure my predecessors did after Beirut and after Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and after all the other attacks on our facilities, I’m sure all of them — Republican and Democrat alike — especially where there was loss of American life — said, “OK, what must we do better?
“How do we protect the men and women that we send without weapons, without support from the military, into some of the most dangerous places in the world?”
And so I will continue to speak out and do everything I can from whatever position I’m in to honor the memory of those we lost and to work as hard as I know to try to create more understanding and cooperation between the State Department, our diplomats, our development professionals from USAID and the Congress so that the Congress is a partner with us, as was the case in previous times.
I would like us to get back to those times, Congressman. Whereas I think one of you said, Beirut, we lost far more Americans, not once but twice within a year. There was no partisan effort. People rose above politics.
A Democratic Congress worked with a Republican administration to say, “what do we need to learn?” Out of that came the legislation for the Accountability Review Board.
Similarly, after we lost more Americans in the bombings in east Africa, again, Republicans and Democrats worked together, said, “what do we need to do better?”
So I’m — I’m an optimist, Congressman. I’m hoping that that will be the outcome of this and every other effort, so that we really do honor not only those we lost, but all those who, right as we speak, are serving in dangerous places, representing the values and the interests of the American people.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
GOWDY: The gentleman from California yields back. I’m going to address a couple things that he said and then recognize myself. Because he invoked the family members of the four (ph), Madam Secretary, and partially this will be for your benefit also. But I want to specifically address the family members that are here.
There is no theory of the prosecution, Mr. Schiff, because there is no prosecution. There’s a very big difference between a prosecution, where you already have reached a conclusion and you’re just trying to prove it to people.
This is an investigation, which is why it’s so sad that nowhere in that stack that you just put up there were the e-mails of Secretary Clinton, the e-mails of the ambassador, 50,000 — 50,000 pages worth of documents, eyewitnesses.
That’s the real tragedy. To the family and the friends. When you’re told that there have been seven previous investigations and an ARB, you should immediately ask, “why did you miss so many witnesses? Why did you miss so many documents?”
This is not a prosecution, Mr. Schiff. You and I are both familiar with them. I’ve reached no conclusions, and I would advise you to not reach any conclusions, either, until we reach the end.
There are 20 more witnesses, so I’ll agree not to reach any conclusions if you’ll do the same.
With that, Madam Secretary, regardless of where he ranked in the order of advisers, it is undisputed that a significant number of your e-mails were to or from a Sidney Blumenthal.
Now, he did not work for the State Department. He didn’t work for the U.S. government at all. He wanted to work for the State Department, but the White House said no to him.
Do you recall who specifically at the White House rejected Sidney Blumenthal?
CLINTON: No, I do not.
GOWDY: After he was turned down for a job at the State Department by the White House, he went to work where?
CLINTON: I think he had a number of consulting contracts with different entities.
GOWDY: Well, if he had a number of them, do you recall any of them?
CLINTON: I know that he did some work for my husband.
GOWDY: Well, he worked for the Clinton Foundation.
CLINTON: That’s — that’s correct.
GOWDY: OK. He worked for Media Matters.
CLINTON: I — I’m sure he did.
GOWDY: He worked for Correct the Record.
CLINTON: I’m sure he did.
GOWDY: When you were asked about Sidney Blumenthal you said he was an old friend who sent you unsolicited e-mails, which you passed in some instances because you wanted to hear from people outside what you called the bubble.
We will ignore for a second whether or not Sidney Blumenthal is outside the bubble, but I do want to ask you about a couple of those other comments, because what you left out was that he was an old friend who knew absolutely nothing about Libya, was critical of President Obama and others that you work with, loved to send you political and image advice, had business interests in Libya, which he not only alerted you to, but solicited your help for.
And you often forwarded his e-mails, but usually only after you redacted out any identifier, so nobody knew where the information was coming from.
What does the word unsolicited mean to you?
CLINTON: It means that I did not ask him to send me the information that he sent me, and as I have previously stated, some of it I found interesting, some of it I do not. Some of it I forwarded, some of it I do not.
I did not know anything about any business interest. I thought that, just as I said previously, newspaper articles, journalists, of which he is one — a former journalist — had some interesting insights. And so, you know, we took them on board and evaluated them, and some were helpful and others were not.
GOWDY: We’re going to get to all the points you just made, but I want to start with your — your public comment that these e-mails were unsolicited.
You wrote to him, Another keeper, thanks and please keep them coming. Greetings from Kabul and thanks for keeping this stuff coming. Any other info about it? What are you hearing now? Got it, we’ll follow up tomorrow. Anything else to convey?
Now, that one is interesting because that was the very e-mail where Mr. Blumenthal was asking you to intervene on behalf of a business deal that he was pursuing in Libya.
What did you mean by What are you hearing now?
CLINTON: I have no idea, Congressman.
They started out unsolicited and, as I said, some were of interest. I passed them on, and some were not. And so he continued to provide me information that was made available to him.
GOWDY: I — I don’t want to parse words and — and I don’t want to be hypertechnical, because it’s not a huge point, but it is an important point. You didn’t say they started off unsolicited. You said they were — you said they were unsolicited.
CLINTON: Well, they were unsolicited. But obviously, I did respond to some of them.
GOWDY: Well, anything else…
CLINTON: … And I’m sure that encouraged him.
GOWDY: … Anything else to convey? What are you hearing now? I’m going to Paris tomorrow night, will meet with TNC (ph) leaders, so this and additional info useful. Still don’t have electricity or BlackBerry coverage post-Iran, so I’ve had to resort to my new iPad. Let me know if you received this.
We’ll talk about the new iPad in a little bit. Here’s another one.
This report is in part a response to your questions. That’s an e-mail from him to you. This is — this report is, in part, a response to your questions. There will be further information in the next day.
If you’re the one asking him for information, how does that square with the definition of unsolicited? CLINTON: I said it began that way, Mr. Chairman, and I will add that both Chris Stevens and Gene Cretz (ph) found some of the information interesting — far more than I could, because they knew some of the characters who were being mentioned, and they were the ones — the kind of persons with the expertise — that I asked to evaluate to see whether there was any useful information.
GOWDY: We’re gonna get to that in a second, now. Before you give Mr. Blumenthal too much credit, you agree he didn’t write a single one of those cables or memos he sent you.
CLINTON: I’m sorry, what?
GOWDY: He didn’t write a single one of those cables or memos.
CLINTON: I — I don’t know who wrote them. He’s the one who sent them to me.
GOWDY: Would you be surprised to know not a single one of those was from him?
CLINTON: I don’t know where he got the information that he was sending to me.
GOWDY: Did you ask? Did you — did you ask?
You’re sending me very specific detailed intelligence, what is your source? That seems like a pretty good question.
CLINTON: Well, I — I did learn later that he was talking to or sharing information from former American Intelligence Official.
GOWDY: By the name of? Who wrote those cables?
CLINTON: I don’t recall — I don’t know, Mr. chairman.
GOWDY: You had this information passed on to others, but, at least on one occasion, you as a Ms. Abenine (ph) can you print without any identifiers?
Why would you want his name removed?
CLINTON: Because I thought that it would be more important to just look at the substance, and to make a determination as to whether or not there was anything to it.
GOWDY: Well, don’t people have a right to know the source of the information so they can determine credibility?
CLINTON: But he wasn’t, as you just said, the source of the information…
GOWDY: But you didn’t know that, Madam Secretary. And that’s what you just said.
CLINTON: No, no, Mr. chairman, I said that I knew — I knew that he didn’t have the sources to provide that information. I knew he was getting it from somewhere else, whether they — he knew a lot of journalists…
GOWDY: Did — did you ask where?
CLINTON: … He knew others in Washington. It could have been a variety of people.
GOWDY: If you’re gonna — if you’re going to determine credibility, don’t you want to know the source?
CLINTON: Well, it wasn’t credibility so much as trying to follow the threads that were mentioned about individuals. And, as I already stated, some of it was useful and some of it was not.
GOWDY: Well, did the president know that Mr. Blumenthal was advising you?
CLINTON: He wasn’t advising me. And, you know, Mr. chairman…
GOWDY: Did he know that he was your most prolific e-mailer that we have found on the subjects of Libya and Benghazi?
CLINTON: That’s because I didn’t do most of my work about Libya…
GOWDY: That’s fair.
CLINTON: … On e-mail.
GOWDY: I’m not challenging that, Madam Secretary. I am not challenging that.
All I’m telling you is that documents show he was your most prolific e-mailer on Libya and Benghazi. And my question to you is, did the president — the same White House that said you can’t handle him, and can’t hire him — did he know that he was advising you?
CLINTON: He was not advising me, and I have no reason to have ever mentioned that or know that the president knew that.
GOWDY: All right. I want to draw your attention to an e-mail about Libya from Mr. Blumenthal to you dated April 2011. It will be Exhibit 67.
And this is — this is informative. “Should we pass this on,” and in parentheticals, “unidentified to the White House?”
If you were gonna pass something on to the White House, why would you take off the identifiers?
CLINTON: Because it was important to evaluate the information, and from a lot of intelligence that I have certainly reviewed over the years, you often don’t have the source of the intelligence. You look at the intelligence, and you try to determine whether or not it is credible. Whether it can be followed up on. GOWDY: Well, I’m gonna accept the fact that you and I come from different backgrounds, because I can tell you that an unsourced comment could never be uttered in any courtroom. You have to have the…
CLINTON: But we’re not talking about courtrooms, Mr. chairman. We’re talking about intelligence.
GOWDY: No, we’re talking about credibility and the ability to assess who a source is, and whether or not that source has ever been to Libya, knows anything about Libya, or has business interests in Libya — all of which would be important if you were going to determine the credibility, which I think is why you probably took his information off of what you sent to the White House.
But here’s another possible explanation. It may give us a sense of why, maybe the White House didn’t want you to hire him in the first place.
In one e-mail he wrote this about the president’s Secretary of Defense: “I infer gate (ph) problem as losing an internal debate. Tyler…” And by the way, Tyler Drumheller (ph), that’s who actually authored the cables that you got from Mr. Blumenthal.
“… Tyler knows him well and says he’s a mean, vicious, little…” I’m not gonna say the word, but he did.
This is an e-mail from Blumenthal to you about the president’ Security of Defense.
And here’s another Blumenthal e-mail to you about the president’s national security adviser. “Frankly, Tom Donelan’s (ph) babbling rhetoric about narratives on a phone briefing of reporters on March the 10th has inspired derision among foreign — serious foreign policy analysts both here and abroad.”
And here’s another from, what you say is your old friend Sidney Blumenthal. This is a quote from him. “I would say Obama…” — and by the way, he left the president part out. “I would say Obama appears to be intent on seizing defeat from the jaws of victory. He and his political cronies in the White House and Chicago are, to say the least, unenthusiastic about regime change in Libya. Obama’s lukewarm and self-contradicting statements have produced what is, at least for the moment, operational paralysis.”
GOWDY: I think, that may give us a better understanding of why the White House may have told you, you cannot hire him.
Blumenthal could not get hired by our government, didn’t pass any background check at all, had no role with our government, had never been to Libya, had no expertise in Libya, was critical of the president and others that you worked with, shared polling data with you on the intervention in Libya, gave you political advice on how to take credit for Libya, all the while working for The Clinton Foundation and some pseudo news entities.
And Madam Secretary, he had unfettered access to you. And he used that access, at least on one occasion, to ask you to intervene on behalf of a business venture.
Do you recall that?
CLINTON: You know, Mr. Chairman, if you don’t have any friends who say unkind things privately I congratulate you. But from my perspective…
GOWDY: I’d like to think I’d correct them.
CLINTON: … I don’t know what this line of questioning does to help us get to the bottom of the deaths of four Americans.
GOWDY: I’ll be happy to help you understand that, madam secretary.
CLINTON: But I want to reiterate what I said to Congresswoman Sanchez. These were originally unsolicited. You’ve just said that perhaps the main, if not the exclusive author, was a former intelligence agent for our country, who rose to the highest levels of the CIA and who was given credit for being one of the very few who pointed out that the intelligence used by the Bush administration to go to war in Iraq was wrong.
So I think that, you know, the sharing of information from an old friend that I did not take at face value, that I sent on to those who were experts, is something that, you know, makes sense.
But it was certainly not in any way the primary source of or the predominant understanding that we had of what was going on in Libya and what we needed to be doing.
GOWDY: Well, Madam Secretary, I’m out of time and we’ll pick this back up the next round but I’ll go ahead and let you know ahead of time why it’s relevant.
It’s relevant because our ambassador was asked to read and respond to Sidney Blumenthal’s drivel. It was sent to him to read and react to, in some instances on the very same day he was asking for security. So I think it is eminently fair to ask why Sidney Blumenthal had unfettered access to you, Madam Secretary, with whatever he wanted to talk about.
And there’s not a single solitary e-mail to or from you to or from Ambassador Stevens. I think that that is fair and we’ll take that up.
CUMMINGS: Will the gentleman yield?
Will the gentleman yield?
CUMMINGS: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, you’ve made several inaccurate statements over the past month as you have tried to defend against multiple Republican admissions that the Select Committee has been wasting millions of tax dollars to damage Secretary Clinton’s bid for president.
On Sunday, you made another inaccurate statement during your appearance on “Face the Nation” and it’s being taken up here. And this is the relevance.
Here’s what you said, and I quote, “There are other folks who may have equities in her e-mails and there may be other entities who are evaluating her e-mails. But my interest — my interest in them is solely making sure that I get everything I’m entitled to so that I can do my job. The rest of it, classification, The Clinton Foundation, you name it, I have zero interest in it, which is why you haven’t seen me send a subpoena related to it or interview a single person, other than Brian Fabiano (ph), because I need to know that the record is complete. And I’m going back to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
GOWDY: I’m waiting…
CUMMINGS: Mr. Chairman, let me finish.
GOWDY: I’ve been very patient.
CUMMINGS: I’m coming, just wait.
GOWDY: I’m waiting on the inaccurate statement.
CUMMINGS: I’m getting there.
GOWDY: Well, we got to take a break.
CUMMINGS: Well, it’s not going to take a long. You took up four minutes over so let me have three.
GOWDY: I’ve let everybody go over, including you, Mr. Congressman.
CUMMINGS: Thank you very much.
You issued a subpoena to Sidney Blumenthal on May 19th, 2015, compelling him to appear for a deposition on June 16, 2015. You issued this subpoena unilaterally without giving the Select Committee members the opportunity to debate or vote on it.
You sent two armed marshals to serve the subpoena on Mr. Blumenthal’s wife at their home without having ever sent him a request to participate voluntarily, which he would have done.
Then, Mr. Chairman, you personally attended Mr. Blumenthal’s deposition; you person personally asked him about The Clinton Foundation and you personally directed your staff to ask questions about The Clinton Foundation, which they did more than 50 times.
Now these facts directly contradict the statements you made on national television.
GOWDY: No, that’s — no, sir, with all due respect, they do not. We’re — we just heard e-mail after e-mail after e-mail about Libya and Benghazi that Sidney Blumenthal sent to the secretary of state. I don’t care if he sent it by Morse code, carrier pigeon, smoke signals, the fact that he happened to send it by e-mail is irrelevant.
What is relevant is that he was sending information to the secretary of state. That is what’s relevant. Now, with respect to the subpoena, if he’d bothered to answer the telephone calls of our committee, he wouldn’t have needed a subpoena.
CUMMINGS: Will the gentleman yield?
GOWDY: I’ll be happy to but you need to make sure the entire record is correct.
CUMMINGS: Yes. And that’s exactly what I want to do.
GOWDY: Well, then, go ahead.
CUMMINGS: I’m about to tell you.
I move that we put into the record the entire transcript of Sidney Blumenthal. We’re going to release the e-mails; let’s do the transcript. That way the world can see it.
(UNKNOWN): I second that motion.
GOWDY: Well, we didn’t — we didn’t…
CUMMINGS: That motion has been seconded.
GOWDY: Well, we’re not going to take that up at a hearing. We’ll take that up…
CUMMINGS: Mr. Chairman, I have consulted with the parliamentarian and they have informed us that we have a right to record a vote on that — on that motion. We want — you know, you can ask for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Well, that’s what we want to have. You can put that — let the world see it.
GOWDY: Why is it that you only want Mr. Blumenthal’s transcript released?
Why don’t you…
CUMMINGS: I’d like to have all of them released.
GOWDY: The survivors?
Even their names?
You want that?
CUMMINGS: No, you…
GOWDY: You want that released?
CUMMINGS: Well, let me tell you something, right now…
GOWDY: The only one you’ve asked for is Sidney Blumenthal.
That’s the only one you’ve asked for, that and Ms. Mills.
(UNKNOWN): Cheryl Mills, Cheryl Mills.
CUMMINGS: That’s not true.
GOWDY: That’s two out of 54.
(UNKNOWN): The chairman asked for a recorded vote?
GOWDY: You want to ask for some facts…
CUMMINGS: I ask for a recorded vote on the — on the Blumenthal — you said from the beginning we want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Why don’t we just put the entire transcript out there and let the world see it?
What do you have to hide?
SCHIFF (?): These are the only e-mails that you have released and in fairness to Mr. Blumenthal and to the American people, in the interest of a complete record, if you’re going to release his e-mails, release his transcript, where he has a chance to give the context of those e-mails.
GOWDY: Well, you keep referring to Blumenthal e-mails. I would hasten to remind both of you the only reason we have Blumenthal e- mails is because he e-mailed the secretary of state. Those are her e- mails. That’s why they were released. They’re not Blumenthal’s e- mails. And she wanted all of her e-mails released. She’s been saying since March I want the entire world to see my e-mails.
Well, Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mails are part of that.
So here’s what I’ll do. I’ll be happy to talk to the parliamentarian because the parliamentarian told me that your motion actually would not be in order for a hearing. But at the latest we’ll take a vote and the first we are back after this week we’ll have a business meeting, we can take up Mr. Blumenthal’s transcript. We can take up what ever other transcripts you want.
And while we’re there, we can also take up the 20-some odd outstanding discovery requests that we have to different executive branch entities.
Why don’t we just take all of it up then?
SCHIFF: Mr. Chairman, the allegations that have been made against him are refuted by his own testimony, in the interest of not having…
GOWDY: That’s your opinion, Adam.
SCHIFF: Well, if you disagree, then release the transcripts.
GOWDY: What allegation, Adam?
SCHIFF: Why conceal the transcripts?
Even if the motion were not in order, you have to power to release them.
GOWDY: I’ll tell you why, because I’m not going to release one transcript of someone who knows nothing about Libya by his own admission while people who risk their lives — you have no interest in their story getting out. You don’t want the — you don’t want the 18 D.S. agents, you don’t want the CIA agents.
The only transcripts you want released are Ms. Mills and Sidney Blumenthal’s. So we’ll take all of this up… SCHIFF: And the only person you are interested in asking about during her entire questioning was Sidney Blumenthal. If you’re so interested in him, release the transcript. You selectively released his e-mails, they’re the only witness you’ve done that for. So you’re asking why are we only ask asking for his transcript?
GOWDY: I’m going to ask the gentleman from California to please do a better job of characterizing. These are not Sidney Blumenthal’s e-mails. These are Secretary Clinton’s e-mails. And I’ll tell you what, if you think you’ve heard about Sidney Blumenthal so far, wait until the next round.
With that, we’re adjourned.
The second session:
GOWDY: The hearing will come back to order.
Madam Secretary, with your indulgence, we will take up one little house keeping matter.
The question is on the motion of the gentleman to include the document in the record. The Chair opposes the motion.
Those in favor of the motion may signify by — so by saying aye.
Those opposed by no.
CUMMINGS(?): Roll call, Mr. Chairman.
CLERK: Mr. Chairman, I ask for a recorded vote.
GOWDY: A recorded vote has been — has been requested.
Chairman’s says — the Chairman’s vote — what?
GOWDY: Yeah, I’m sorry. Secretary, call the roll.
CLERK: Mr. Westmoreland?
CLERK: Mr. Westmoreland votes no.
UNKNOWN: Mr. Who? I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear.
CLERK: Sorry, Mr. Jordan.
CLERK: Mr. Jordan votes no. Mr. Roskam?.
CLERK: Mr. Roskam votes no.
CLERK: My. Pompeo votes no.
CLERK: Mrs. Roby votes no.
CLERK: Mrs. Brooks votes no.
CLERK: Mr. Cummings votes yes.
CLERK: Mr. Smith votes aye.
CLERK: Mr. Schiff votes aye.
CLERK: Ms. Sanchez votes aye.
CLERK: Ms. Duckworth votes aye.
GOWDY: The clerk will report.
CLERK: And Mr. Gowdy.
CLERK: Mr. Gowdy votes no. Yeas five, no’s eight.
GOWDY: And the motion is not agreed to. Madame Secretary…
CLERK: My apologies, sir. It was seven.
GOWDY: Motion’s still not agreed to. Even South Carolina math can figure that out.
Madame Secretary, before we broke, there was a question asked that I thought was a fair question, which is why was I talking about Mr. Blumenthal’s e-mails.
I do think that’s a fair question. I think it’s an equally it fair question to ask why you were reading Mr. Blumenthal’s e-mails? I think both are fair. So, I want to go to June of 2012, which is an interesting time period to look at. It’s started. Charlene Lamb was an employee of the State Department and she sent an e-mail, which you may be familiar with, tab 56, I’m not going to read it, but it’s the tab 56, where she described Benghazi as a soft target, attacks on Americans not staffed adequately. It’s a very haunting e-mail to read.
It was actually three months to the day when our four fellow citizens were killed. And that is on June the 7th, 2012. Also on June the 7th 2012, your deputy chief of staff, Mr. Jake Sullivan is e- mailing Ambassador Stevens, asking the ambassador to look at a memo Sidney Blumenthal sent you. And in fact, Mr. Sullivan writes for Ambassador Chris, checking in with you on this report, “any reactions?”
All right, that is on exactly the same day that I believe our ambassador papers were accepted in Libya. It’s the day after an IED attack on our compound and Chris Stevens is being asked to read and react to an e-mail by Sidney Blumenthal from your deputy chief of staff.
Now, this is what he’s writing on the 7th, this is after he’s been turned down on a request for more security. This is our ambassador, “Appreciate you giving this proposal, even if the conclusion was not the favorable for us. We’d be interested in pursuing the other avenue you suggest, high threat trained agents. Best, Chris.”
So, I have this contrast in my mind. A ambassador newly in place. It’s a day after an attack on our facility. Your deputy chief of staff is sending him an e-mail from Sidney Blumenthal, asking him to take time to read and react to it. And then to the best of my recollection, that’s forwarded to you.
So help us understand how Sidney Blumenthal had that kind of access to you, Madame Secretary, but ambassador did not.
CLINTON: Mr. Chairman, because I think that your question does help to clarify matters.
Chris Stevens e-mailed regularly with Jake Sullivan one of my closest aides in the State Department. He could have e-mailed to Mr. Sullivan knowing that it would have been immediately responded to on any issue that was of concern to him, and he did not raise issues about security on that day or other days.
And I think it’s important to recognize that when an ambassador is at post overseas, especially as experienced a diplomat as Chris Stevens, he knows where to pull the levers, where to go for information, where to register concerns.
And I think he did exactly as one might have expected. He dealt with security issues through dealing with the security professionals who were the ones making the assessments. And I think that Ambassador Stevens understood completely that that is where the experts were, and that is where anything he requested or anything he was questioning should be directed.
GOWDY: Speaking of experts, who is Victoria Nuland?
CLINTON: A very experience diplomat. She served as our Ambassador to NATO, appointed by President George W. Bush. She served as one of the advisers as a Foreign Service Officer delegated to the White House for Vice President Cheney. She served as the spokesperson for the State Department during my tenure, and she is currently the Assistant Secretary for Europe under Secretary Kerry.
GOWDY: She wrote this to the Ambassador on June 13, 2012, that is a week after the facility was attacked. It is only a handful of days after he was turned down on a request — specific request for more security.
“Chris, I know you have your hands full, but we’d like your advice about public massaging on the state of violence in Libya over the past 10 days.”
So she’s asking him for help with public massaging. Jake Sullivan (ph), which is the other half of the question that I don’t think we got to. I — I understand that Chris Stevens was a rule follower. I understand that. I’ve got no qualms. My question was, actually, not why Chris Stevens didn’t contact you, but why did Jake Sullivan (ph) send Chris Stevens a Sidney Blumenthal e-mail to read and react to? On a day after the facility was attacked, the same day he was denied a request for more security. And instead of e-mail traffic back and forth about security, it’s read and react to a Blumenthal e-mail.
CLINTON: Well, I think any ambassador, if one were sitting before the committee, would say that they handled a lot of incoming information and requests.
Some of it was about what was happening in-country, some of about it was about what was happening back in the United States. And Chris felt strongly that the United States needed to remain in and committed to Libya.
So he was concerned that there might be a — a feeling on the part of some, either in the State Department or elsewhere in the Government, that we shouldn’t be in Libya. And he was adamantly in favor of us staying in Libya.
So part of what the discussion with him and — and Jake Sullivan (ph) and others was, you know, how do we best convey what the stakes the United States has in staying involved in Libya would be? And I thought that was, you know, very much in keeping with both his assessment and his experience.
GOWDY: Well, I appreciate your perspective, Madame Secretary.
Let me share with you my perspective. And if you need to take time to read a note, I’m happy to pause.
CLINTON: No, I’m just being reminded, which I think is important that remember, Chris spent the vast majority of his time in Tripoli, not in Benghazi. So a lot of what he was looking at is how you deal with not only those in authority positions in Libya, who were based in Tripoli at that time, but also representatives of other governments and the like.
And I think it is fair to say that anytime you’re trying to figure out what’s the best argument to make, especially if you’re someone like Chris Stevens trying to put together and make the best argument about why the United States should remain committed to Libya and others, as well, he’s going to engage in conversations about that.
GOWDY: Well, with respect, Madame Secretary, no matter what city he was in in Libya, having to stop and provide public massaging advice to your press shop, and having to read and respond to an e-mail sent by Sidney Blumenthal, it doesn’t matter what town you’re in. He needed security help.
He didn’t need help messaging the violence. He needed help actually with the violence. You…
CLINTON: No… GOWDY: … Have said several times this morning that you had people and processes in place. And I want to ask you about an e-mail that was sent to you by another one of your aids, Ms. Huma Abedin (ph). That would be Exhibit number 70 (ph) in your folder.
She e-mailed you that the Libyan people needed medicine, gasoline, diesel and milk. Do you know how long it took you to respond to that e-mail?
CLINTON: Well, I responded to it very quickly.
GOWDY: Yeah. 4 minutes.
My question, and I think it’s a fair one, is the Libyan people had their needs responded to directly by you in 4 minutes. And there is no record of our security folks ever even making it to your inbox.
So if you had people and processes in place for security, did you not also have people and processes in place for medicine, gasoline, diesel, milk?
CLINTON: You know, Mr. chairman, I’ve said it before, I will say it again, I’ll say it as many times as is necessary to respond.
Chris Stevens communicated regularly with the members of my staff. He did not raise security with the members of my staff. I communicated with him about certain issues. He did not raise security with me. He raised security with the security professionals.
Now, I know that’s not the answer you want to hear because it’s being asked in many different ways by committee members. But those are the facts, Mr. Chairman. Ambassadors in the field are engaged in many different tasks. They are basically our chief representative of the president of the United States, so they deal with everything from, you know, foreign aid to security to dealing with the personal requests for visas that come from people in the country they are assigned to.
And Chris Stevens had regular contact with members of my staff and he did not raise security issues. Now, some of it may have been because despite what was implied earlier, there was a good back and forth about security. And many of the requests that came from Embassy Tripoli, both for Tripoli and for Benghazi, were acted on affirmatively. Others were not.
That is what an ambassador, especially in a diplomat as experienced as Chris Stevens, would expect, that it would be unlikely to be able to get every one of your requests immediately answered positively.
So, yes, he had regular contact with my aides. He did not raise security with me. And the security questions and requests were handled by the security professionals.
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, with all due respect, those are two separate issues. Who Chris Stevens had access to is one issue. Who had access to you and for what is another issue, because you have said you had people and processes in place.
You also have people and processes in place for people who want to send you meaningless political advice. You also have people and processes in place for people who want to inquire about milk and diesel fuel and gasoline. You also have people and processes in place for people who want to provide insults towards folks you work with in the administration.
All of that made it directly into your in-box, Madam Secretary. That is my question. My question is: How did you decide when to invoke a people and process and who just got to come straight to you? Because it looked like certain things got straight to your in box, and the request for more security did not.
And while you’re answering that, I want to inform and instruct why I’m asking it. You have mentioned the ARB on a number of occasions again today. This was not the first ARB. We had one after Kenya and Tanzania. And that ARB could not have been more specific. The secretary of state should personally review the security situation of our embassy facilities.
That ARB put the responsibility squarely on you. So with respect to that previous ARB recommendation, and in contrast, what did make your in box versus what did not, did you personally review our security situation as the previous ARB required?
CLINTON: Well, let me see if I can answer the many parts of your — of your question, Mr. Chairman.
Yes, personal e-mail came to my personal account. Work-related e-mail did as well. And I also relied on a number of my aides and staff members, as well as experienced Foreign Service officers and civil servants who were similarly engaged in gathering information and sharing it.
And as I said and I will repeat, Chris Stevens communicated with a number of people that I worked with on a daily basis in the State Department. So far as I know, he did not raise any issue of security with any of those people. He raised it where he knew it would be properly addressed. If he had raised it with me, I would be here telling you he had. He did not.
And so I think it’s important to try to separate out the various elements of your question, Mr. Chairman, and I will do my best to continue to try to answer your questions. But I have said before and I will repeat again, Sid Blumenthal was not my adviser official or unofficial about Libya. He was not involved in any of the meetings, conversations, other efforts to obtain information in order to act on it.
On occasion, I did forward what he sent me to make sure that it was in the mix. So if it was useful, it could be put to use. And I believe in response to the e-mail you pointed our originally from Ambassador Stevens, he actually said it rang true and it was worth looking into.
So I think it’s important that we separate out the fact that Mr. Blumenthal was not my adviser. He was not an official of the United States government. He was not passing on official information. He, like a number of my friends who would hand me a newspaper article, would buttonhole me at a reception and say “what about this” or “what about that” — were trying to be helpful. Some of it was. A lot of it wasn’t.
GOWDY: The chair will not recognize the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez. SANCHEZ: Thank you.
Secretary Clinton, I listened very carefully when Chairman Gowdy was questioning you in the first round of questioning. I have to say I was kind of surprised. We waited more than a year to finally get you up here to testify. We spent almost $5 million and we interviewed about 54 witnesses.
And when the chairman finally got his chance to question you, he asked you — he quibbled, actually — over the definition of the word “unsolicited.” As if that wasn’t bad enough, then he doubled-down on this idea that Sidney Blumenthal was your primary adviser on Libya, a claim that we heard The Washington Post awarded four Pinocchios.
He said on Sunday on national television that he had zero interest in the Clinton Foundation and other topics, but then he just spent his full time, the full questioning time in the first round asking you about the Clinton Foundation, media matters, and other topics that don’t really have anything to do with the attack that occurred in Benghazi. And my own sense of incredulity was really, really — is this why we’ve asked you to come to testify about that?
The overwhelming sense that I get from the Republican side of the aisle is they seem to be arguing somehow that Sidney Blumenthal had access to you, while Ambassador Stevens did not. Do you — do you think that that’s an accurate statement?
CLINTON: Of course not, Congresswoman. You know, you didn’t need my e-mail address to get my attention. In fact, most of the work I did, as I said this morning, had nothing to do with my e-mails. It had to do with the kind of meetings and materials that were provided to me through those who were responsible for making decisions on a whole range of issues.
And as I just told the chairman, if Ambassador Stevens had grave concerns that he wanted raised with me, he certainly knew how to do that.
SANCHEZ: He could speak to your office or your staff?
SANCHEZ: Or you directly on the telephone?
SANCHEZ: Did he ever ask you for your personal e-mail address and you turned him down (inaudible)?
CLINTON: No, he did not.
SANCHEZ: The other thing that I’m hearing from the other side of the aisle is they’re arguing that there was this, you know, security was, you know, it was sort of decomposing in eastern Libya. And that no security improvements were ever made to the Benghazi outpost. That’s not a true statement, is it? CLINTON: No, it is not.
SANCHEZ: In fact, there were many security enhancements that were asked for that were actually made, although there were others that were — other requests that were made that were not fulfilled. Is that correct?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
SANCHEZ: OK. The other line of questioning that sort of surprises me is that over the course of this investigation, Republicans have repeatedly asked why the U.S. was still in Benghazi on the night of the attacks. During the select committee’s first hearing, which was more than a year ago, the chairman posed the following question: “We know the risk of being in Benghazi. Can you tell us what our policy was in Libya that overcame those risks? In other words, why were we there?”
And the Accountability Review Board had already answered that question. It explained that Benghazi was the largest city and historical power center in eastern Libya. It further went on to say although the rebel-led Transitional National Council declared that Tripoli would continue to be the capital of post-Gadhafi Libya, many of the influential players in the TNC remained based in Benghazi.
And the ARB went on to explain that Ambassador Stevens advocated for a U.S. presence in Benghazi and his status as the leading U.S. government advocate on Libya policy and his expertise on Benghazi in particular caused Washington to give unusual deference to his judgments.
Secretary Clinton, do you agree? Was Ambassador Stevens a leading expert on Libya policy? And did you also give his opinions a lot of weight and respect?
CLINTON: Yes, I did, Congresswoman.
SANCHEZ: Do you recall Ambassador Stevens advocating from the ground up for continued U.S. presence specifically in Benghazi?
CLINTON: Yes, he did.
SANCHEZ: In fact, Ambassador Stevens’s e-mails, many of which this committee has had for more than a year, confirm what you’ve just stated.
Mr. Chairman, I would ask unanimous consent to enter this document into the record, and it’s being passed out to the members of the committee.
GOWDY: Without objection.
SANCHEZ: Secretary Clinton, I understand this e-mail is not one that you have seen before as it was not addressed or sent to you, is that correct?
CLINTON: That’s correct.
SANCHEZ: In the e-mail before you, then-Special Envoy Stevens wrote this proposal for continued presence in Benghazi at Embassy Tripoli — as Embassy Tripoli was reopened following the fall of Gadhafi. He suggested two potential models. Option A was a slimmed- down compound and Option B was a virtual presence with zero full-time State Department staff in Benghazi.
Special Envoy Stevens sent this e-mail to Gene Cretz, then the ambassador to Libya, his deputy chief of mission and the director of the Office of Mahgreb Affairs. At the time, these career diplomats had a combined 83 years of foreign service experience. Would the recommendation of this team be given a fair amount of weight within the Department?
CLINTON: Yes, it would.
SANCHEZ: And is that the way that it should work that the views of experienced diplomats should count in decision making?
CLINTON: They certainly did to me, and I think that should be the practice.
SANCHEZ: In the same e-mail, Special Envoy Stevens states, quote, “my personal recommendation would be Option A,” which was the option for a slimmed-down compound. He then notes a few of his key rationales for wanting to stay. In an earlier September 6th, 2011 e- mail advocating for a continued Benghazi presence, Special Envoy Stevens provided more reasons including the opportunity to, quote, “monitor political trends and public sentiment regarding the new Libya. The revolution began in eastern Libya and the view of these 2 million inhabitants will certainly influence events going forward.”
Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Ambassador Stevens’ view that there were important reasons to have a presence in Benghazi despite the risks?
CLINTON: Yes, I do.
SANCHEZ: Other documents show that Ambassador Stevens continued to advocate for a continued U.S. presence once he became ambassador to Libya. In fact, at the end of August, just two week before the attacks, he was working on a proposal for a permanent presence. As that proposal explained, quote, “a permanent branch office in Benghazi to provide a permanent platform to protect U.S. national security interests in the region and to promote a stronger healthier and more vibrant bilateral relationship with the new, free and democratic Libya.”
While Ambassador Stevens took seriously the significant security incidents in Benghazi that occurred in June, he never decided that the risk outweighed the benefit and he never recommended closing the post in Benghazi. He worked with his counterparts to try to manage that risk as best they could.
In its report, the Benghazi Accountability Review Board found, quote, “the total elimination of risk is a non starter for U.S. diplomacy given the need for the U.S. government to be present in places where stability and security are often most profoundly lacking and host government support is sometimes minimal to nonexistent.”
Secretary Clinton, this is such a difficult issue, the balancing of interests. From your perspective as a former senator and secretary of State, how do you best ensure that we are striking the right balance going forward?
CLINTON: Well, Congresswoman, thank you for that question because I do think that’s what we should be talking about, and several of you have posed similar questions.
I think you do start with the best expert and experienced advice that you can get from across our government. And as you rightly point out, Chris Stevens never recommended that we close Benghazi, he advocated for keeping Benghazi open. And as you rightly referred to this e-mail for a particular configuration that would fulfill the needs of our country being represented there.
Obviously, you have to constantly do this balancing act that I referred to earlier today, and most times we get it right. In fact, the vast majority of times, we get it right. With Benghazi, the CIA did not have any plans to close their facility. The opinion of those with the greatest understanding of our mission, our diplomatic mission in Benghazi was exactly the same, that we should not close down, we should not leave Benghazi. And it’s, you know, obviously something that you have to be constantly evaluating in all of these difficult unstable spots around the world.
But I appreciate your bringing to the committee’s attention the — you know, the strong opinion of the man who knew the most and was on the ground and who understood what we were trying to achieve in Benghazi, Ambassador Stevens.
SANCHEZ: And was it your understanding that he certainly understood the risk of being there?
CLINTON: He definitely understood the risks, yes.
SANCHEZ: Thank you. I yield back.
GOWDY: The gentlelady yields back. The chair will now recognize the gentlelady from Indiana, Ms. Brooks.
BROOKS: Secretary Clinton, I’d like to ask you a bit about your decision making and the discussions you had as it related to how long the Benghazi mission itself was going to last.
I’m putting up a map just because most of us really don’t know much about Libya, don’t know much about the geography of Libya. And as we’ve talked about these various communities, I don’t think most people really realized. So I want to share with you that — we know from my last round that Chris Stevens went into Benghazi in April of 2011, and I want to talk to you about what happened the rest of that year. And just because there was a lot going on, I thought it would be helpful to have this map.
So by mid-July, our government formally recognized the TNC as the official government of Libya, replacing the Gadhafi regime. And TNC was based in Benghazi at that time. And in August, after the Gadhafi government fell, Gadhafi went over into — he left Tripoli where Gadhafi been headquartered, and he went into hiding in Sirte.
Now once that happened, the TNC moved their Benghazi headquarters over to Tripoli, and then in September, we re-opened our embassy in Tripoli and Ambassador Cretz returned; he had been evacuated previously. And Chris Stevens stayed in Benghazi. Does that sound like an accurate summary of the summer of 2011?
CLINTON: It does sound accurate, except I’m not sure exactly the duration of Ambassador Stevens’ presence in Benghazi during those months.
BROOKS: Well, that leads to my next question. What was your plan for the mission in the fall of 2011 and going forward? What were the discussions you had and who did you have those discussions with about the mission of Benghazi going forward in 2011?
CLINTON: Well, as you may have heard, Congresswoman, the e-mail that Congresswoman Sanchez introduced into the record was from the fall of 2011. And there was quite a discussion going on between officials in the State Department, in the intelligence community, in both Washington and Libya about the path forward.
The Transitional National Council had been based in Benghazi, and there was a dispute even within the Libyans themselves as to whether they would split the government, whether the government would be located predominantly but not exclusively in Tripoli or as some were hoping predominantly but not exclusively in Benghazi. So this was all a very live subject that was being debated both in Libya and with respect to what our response would be in Washington.
So we, at Chris Stevens’ strong urging and that of other of our experienced diplomats, wanted to maintain a presence in Benghazi in some form. We re-opened our embassy in Tripoli which had been the historical capital certainly under Gadhafi. But this was a constant discussion about what we should do when and where, and I think that’s why this e-mail from Chris Stevens about his recommendations is so informative.
BROOKS: Well, thank you and I’ll get to that in just a moment. But I have to ask you, I assume that your chief of staff Cheryl Mills was intimately involved in these discussions with you and with your top staff. She’s one of your staff as you were referring to them, is that right?
CLINTON: Well, she covered a broad range of issues. I’m sure she was involved in some of the discussions, but she had many other responsibilities, so I can’t say all of them.
BROOKS: I’d like to refer to you an update on Tripoli operations provided to Cheryl Mills on September 14th. And at the top of that two-page memo, assumptions for Benghazi in September were gradual winding down of operations over the next six months, transition to Tripoli only — transition to Tripoli only by January 2012, no consulate. No consulate meant no consulate in Benghazi. This was in September.
Would that be fair and accurate? And would you — were you in that briefing with Ms. Mills, or did she brief you about the fact that in September the gameplan was to shut down Benghazi?
CLINTON: Well, I think you have to look at that in context, Congresswoman. There was not an active plan for a consulate in Benghazi at any point during this period. That is not what the compound in Benghazi was. It was a temporary facility placed there to help us make a determination as to what we would need going forward in Benghazi…
BROOKS: Excuse me, madam secretary.
CLINTON: There was a strong argument that Chris Stevens and others made that they hoped eventually there might be a consulate, but there was never an agreement to have a consulate.
BROOKS: And, in fact, it had been deemed a consulate, it would have had a different level of security, is that correct, than a temporary mission compound, is that accurate?
CLINTON: Well, we have…
BROOKS: Is that accurate, that consulates have certain levels of security. There are standards, there are protocols. When it is a consulate, it gets a certain level of security.
CLINTON: That is the hoped-for outcome. That is not what happens in the beginning in many places, especially the hot spots and the conflict areas where a consulate is stood up.
BROOKS: Can you talk with me about the decision, then — there is a briefing with respect to — after the closing, rather, of the consulate in Benghazi by January of 2012. We know it didn’t close. It did not close. You went to Tripoli in October of 2011. Ambassador Cretz was still there. How about Chris Stevens? Did Chris Stevens come over from Benghazi to see you when you went for the big trip in October ’11?
CLINTON: I don’t recall. I don’t recall if he did or not. This was — this — this was about Ambassador Cretz, and Ambassador Cretz was the person that we were meeting with at that time.
BROOKS: What was your purpose for meeting with Ambassador Cretz if Chris Stevens was your expert in Libya?
CLINTON: Ambassador Cretz was an expert as well. Ambassador Cretz was our ambassador. You remember, as I mentioned to you before, he had been our ambassador, and then because he reported very accurately about what he observed regarding Gadhafi and Gadhafi’s henchmen, when Wikileaks disclosed internal U.S. government cables and Gene Cretz’s cables were publicized talking very critically about Gadhafi he was then subjected to threats and then we took him out. We did not close the embassy at that time.
So, he had returned to finish out his time and we were in the process of moving him to another assignment and nominating Chris Stevens to replace him.
BROOKS: But you didn’t, during that one trip to Libya, you didn’t talk to Chris Stevens, best of your recollection at that time?
CLINTON: While I was in Libya, I don’t recall that. Of course we consulted with him in respect to planning the trip, as to who we would meet with, what we would ask for.
We were trying very hard to get people in positions of authority at that time in Libya to let us work with them on everything from border security to collecting weapons and trying to disarm the militias. We had a lot of business we were doing with them.
BROOKS: So going back to Miss Sanchez’s e-mail with respect from John Stevens to Miss Polysheck (ph), it talks about Option A, as you’ve pointed out, slimming down the compound, and so he weighed in on — in October he was weighing in on whether or not the compound should stay open.
But I’d like to direct your attention to an e-mail that’s at tab four, dated December 15th from Chris Stevens.
And I might add for the record, we do not, still to this day, have all of Chris Stevens e-mails. We received 1,300 more this week. We received most of them last week. We don’t have the universe yet of Ambassador Stevens e-mails.
But he e-mailed to a reporting officer who we know was in Benghazi still. He wrote, “Interesting. Has security improved in Benghazi in recent weeks? Also curious what you guys decided to do regarding future of the compound. He was in Washington, D.C., or back in the States during that time, and in December Ambassador Stevens, your soon-to-be ambassador, didn’t know what was going to happen with the compound in Benghazi, how is that possible?
Updates coming …
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 22, 2015
Full Text Political Transcripts October 20, 2015: Paul Ryan’s Press Conference on Speaker of the House Candidacy
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Ryan Statement on GOP Conference – Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Source: Paul Ryan, 10-20-15
“Tonight, I shared with my colleagues what I think it will take to have a unified conference and for the next speaker to be successful.
“Basically I made a few requests for what I think is necessary, and I asked to hear back by the end of the week.
“First, we need to move from being an opposition party to a proposition party. Because we think the nation is on the wrong path, we have a duty to show the right one. Our next speaker needs to be a visionary one.
“Second, we need to update our House rules so that everyone can be a more effective representative. This is, after all, the people’s house. But we need to do it as a team. And it needs to include fixes that ensure we don’t experience constant leadership challenges and crisis.
“Third, we, as a conference, should unify now, and not after a divisive speaker election.
“The last one is personal. I cannot and will not give up my family time. I may not be able to be on the road as much as previous speakers, but I pledged to make up for it with more time communicating our message.
“What I told the members is, if you can agree to these requests, and I can truly be a unifying figure, then I will gladly serve. And, if I am not unifying, that is fine as well. I will be happy to stay where am, at the Ways and Means Committee.
“Here is how I see it. . . .
“It is our duty to serve the people the way they deserve to be served. It is our duty to make the tough decisions this country needs to get back on track.
“The challenges we face today are too difficult and demanding for us to turn our backs and walk away.
“Global terror . . . wars on multiple fronts . . . a government grown unaccountable, unconstitutional, and out-of-touch . . . persistent poverty, a sluggish economy, flat wages, and a sky-rocketing debt.
“But we cannot take them on alone. Now, more than ever, we must work together.
“All of us are representatives of the people—all the people. We have been entrusted by them to lead.
“And yet the people we serve do not feel that we are delivering on the job they hired us to do. We have become the problem. If my colleagues entrust me to be speaker, I want us to become the solution.
“One thing I’ve learned from my upbringing in Janesville is that nothing is ever solved by blaming people. We can blame the president. We can blame the media. We can point fingers across the aisle. We can blame each other. We can dismiss our critics and criticism as unfair.
“People don’t care about blame. They don’t care about effort. They care about results. Results that are meaningful. Results that are measurable. Results that make a difference in their daily lives.
“I want to be clear about this. I still think we are an exceptional country with exceptional people and a republic clearly worth fighting for. It’s not too late to save the American idea, but we are running out of time.
“Make no mistake: I believe that the ideas and principles of results-driven, common-sense conservatism are the keys to a better tomorrow—a tomorrow in which all of God’s children will be better off than they are today.
“The idea that the role of the federal government is not to facilitate dependency, but to create an environment of opportunity . . . for everyone.
“The idea that the government should do less. . . . And do it better.
“The idea that those who serve should say what they mean and mean what they say.
“The principle that we should determine the course of our own lives . . . instead of ceding that right to those who think they are better than the rest of us.
“Yes, we will stand and fight when we must. And this presidency will surely require that.
“A commitment to our natural rights. A commitment to common sense . . . to compassion . . . to co-operation—when rooted in genuine conviction and principle—is a commitment to conservatism.
“Let me close by saying: I consider whether to do this with reluctance. And I mean that in the most personal of ways.
“Like many of you, Janna and I have children who are in the formative, foundational years of their lives.
“I genuinely worry about the consequences that my agreeing to serve will have on them.
“Will they experience the viciousness and incivility that we all face on a daily basis?
“But my greatest worry is the consequence of not stepping up. Of some day having my own kids ask me, when the stakes were so high, ‘Why didn’t you do all you could? Why didn’t you stand and fight for my future when you had the chance?’
“None of us wants to hear that question.
“And none of us should ever have to.
“I have shown my colleagues what I think success looks like, what it takes to unify and lead, and how my family commitments come first. I have left this decision in their hands, and should they agree with these requests, then I am happy and willing to get to work. Thank you.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on October 20, 2015
Full Text Political Transcripts September 25, 2015: President Barack Obama’s Statement on Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Resignation Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
President Barack Obama’s Statement on Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Resignation
Source: WH, 9-25-15
On John Boehner, I just heard the news as I was coming out of the meeting here, so it took me by surprise. And I took the time prior to this press conference to call John directly and talk to him.
John Boehner is a good man. He is a patriot. He cares deeply about the House, an institution in which he served for a long time. He cares about his constituents, and he cares about America. We have obviously had a lot of disagreements, and politically we’re at different ends of the spectrum. But I will tell you, he has always conducted himself with courtesy and civility with me. He has kept his word when he made a commitment. He is somebody who has been gracious.
And I think maybe most importantly, he’s somebody who understands that in government, in governance, you don’t get 100 percent of what you want, but you have to work with people who you disagree with — sometimes strongly — in order to do the people’s business.
I’m not going to prejudge who the next Speaker will be. That’s something that will have to be worked through in the House. And I will certainly reach out immediately to whoever is the new Speaker to see what his or her ideas are, and how we can make progress in the important issues that America faces.
The one thing I will say is that my hope is there’s a recognition on the part of the next Speaker — something I think John understood, even though at times it was challenging to bring his caucus along — that we can have significant differences on issues, but that doesn’t mean you shut down the government. That doesn’t mean you risk the full faith and credit of the United States. You don’t invite potential financial crises. You build roads and pass transportation bills. And you do the basic work of governance that ensures that our military is operating and that our national parks are open and that our kids are learning.
And there’s no weakness in that. That’s what government is in our democracy. You don’t get what you want 100 percent of the time. And so sometimes you take half a loaf; sometimes you take a quarter loaf. And that’s certainly something that I’ve learned here in this office.
So I’m looking forward to working with the next Speaker. In the meantime, John is not going to leave for another 30 days, so hopefully he feels like getting as much stuff done as he possibly can. And I’ll certainly be looking forward to working with him on that.
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 25, 2015
Full Text Political Transcripts September 25, 2015: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on House Speaker Boehner’s Resignation: ‘Country and Institution before Self’
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Source: McConnell.Senate.gov, 9-25-15
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the retirement of Speaker Boehner:
“Grace under pressure.
“Country and institution before self.
“These are the first things that come to mind when I think of John Boehner.
“He is an ally. He is a friend. And he took over as Republican Leader at a difficult time for his party.
“When some said Republicans could never recover, he never gave up.
“When some gave in to defeatism, he kept up the fight.
“Because he did, Speaker Boehner was able to transform a broken and dispirited Republican minority into the largest Republican majority since the 1920s.
“That’s a legacy few can match.
“He flew across the country more times than he can count to support members of his conference, and to recruit new members to the cause. As leader of a new majority, he turned the tide in Congress and brought conservative reform in many areas. He worked tirelessly to provide hope to those who dreamed of a better life and to middle-class families who struggled under the weight of this Administration.
“John knows what it’s like to struggle and to dream of something better. He’s lived it.
“That a young man from Reading, Ohio wielding a bar towel could one day wield the gavel of the U.S. House of Representatives — it reminds us of the continuing promise of this country.
“I know yesterday was an incredibly important event for the Speaker. It was his aim to bring the same spirit of grace that has always guided his life, to others. You only had to look out onto the Capitol lawn to see what he achieved. And that he chose this moment to make this decision, means he will be leaving us in a similar spirit.
“I know we’ll all have more to say in the weeks to come. But for now, thank you, my friend.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 25, 2015
Full Text Political Transcripts September 25, 2015: Speaker John Boehner’s Press Conference Announcing Resignation Transcript
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:
Speaker Boehner: “It’s Been An Honor To Serve”
WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today held a news conference to discuss his decision to resign from the Speakership and his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. You can watch the entire news conference here. Following are Boehner’s opening remarks:
“My mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government. Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children. We’re now on track to cut government spending by $2.1 trillion over the next 10 years. We’ve made the first real entitlement reform in nearly two decades. And we’ve protected 99 percent of Americans from permanent tax increases.
“We’ve done all this with a Democrat in the White House. So I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished.
“But more than anything, my first job as Speaker is to protect the institution. A lot of you now know that my plan was to step down at the end of last year. I decided in November of 2010 when I was elected Speaker that serving two terms would have been plenty. But in June of last year, when it became clear that the majority leader lost his election, I frankly didn’t believe it was right to leave at the end of last year. So my goal was to leave at the end of this year. So I planned, actually on my birthday, November 17th, to announce that I was leaving at the end of the year.
“But it’s become clear to me that this prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable harm to the institution. So this morning, I informed my colleagues that I would resign from the Speakership and resign from Congress at the end of October.
“Now, as you’ve often heard me say, this isn’t about me. It’s about the people, it’s about the institution. Just yesterday, we witnessed the awesome sight of Pope Francis addressing the greatest legislative body in the world. And I hope that we will all heed his call to live by the Golden Rule. But last night, I had started to think about all this. Then this morning, I woke up, said my prayers, as I always do. And I decided, you know, today’s the day I’m going to do this, as simple as that.
“That’s the code I’ve always lived by: if you do the right things for the right reasons, the right things will happen. And I know good things lie ahead for this House and this country. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished, and I’m especially proud of my team. This is my 25th year here, and I’ve succeeded in putting a staff together and a team together, many of which have been with me for a long time. Without a great staff, you can’t be a great member, and you certainly can’t be a great Speaker.
“I want to thank my family for putting up with this all these years. My poor girls, who are now 37 and 35. Their first campaign photo was in July of 1981, and so, they’ve had to endure all this. It’s one thing for me to have to endure it. I’ve got thick skin. But, you know, the girls and my wife, they had to put up with a lot over the years.
“Let me express my gratitude to my constituents, who’ve sent me here 13 times over the last 25 years. You can’t get here without getting votes. But — I say this often. People ask me, what’s the greatest thing about being speaker, or about being an elected official? And I said, well, it’s the people you get to meet. You know, I have met tens of thousands of people in my own congressional district that I would have not met, other than the fact I decided to ran for Congress. Over the years, as I traveled on behalf of my colleagues and the party, I’ve met tens of thousands of additional people all over the country. And you meet rich people, you meet poor people, you meet interesting people. Probably a few boring ones along the way.
“But I can tell you that 99.9 percent of the people I meet on the road, anywhere, could not be — could not be nicer than they’ve been. It’s been — really, it’s been wonderful.
“It’s been an honor to serve in this institution.”
Posted by bonniekgoodman on September 25, 2015