WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got testy on Capitol Hill Wednesday in response to a query from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who called into question her department’s accounting of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya.Facing expected scrutiny from Republicans during her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Clinton appeared to take exception to Johnson’s pointed inquiry into the State Department’s initial report that the attack had been mounted spontaneously as a reaction to an anti-Islam YouTube video.
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” Clinton responded, raising her voice at Johnson, who continued to interrupt her. “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk last night who decided to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.”Clinton continued, defending the State Department’s efforts in the wake of the assault. “Honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is people were trying their best in real time to get to the best information,” she said.Earlier in the hearing, Clinton spoke about the aftermath of the attack, her voice cracking as she recalled meeting the families of the four Americans killed, including that of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
UPDATE: 2:00 p.m. — Johnson spoke with Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes shortly after Clinton’s hearing, accusing the secretary of state of evading his question and instead making a “big show” of the exchange.“It was theatrics,” Johnson told Sykes. “Again, she didn’t want to answer questions so she makes a big show of it.”Johnson continued, saying that he would have liked to ask more questions and defending himself against suggestions that he might have been “too aggressive” in his cross-examination.“You only have five minutes, so you can’t let the witness or somebody testifying before you filibuster you,” the senator said. “You actually have to — I try and politely interrupt when I hear enough of an answer and I realize she’s just filibustering. … I’m not trying to be obnoxious here, I’m just trying to get the answers I believe the American people deserve to hear. It’s been four months.”