On Oct. 22, former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addressed the congressional committee devoted to investigating what went wrong in Benghazi, Libya, where a terrorist attack left several Americans dead, including a diplomat, in 2012.
At the time of the attack, Clinton was serving as secretary of state.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio claimed Clinton mislead the public by implying that the attack was a reaction to an anti-Muslim video, but Clinton denied the accusation, according to Reuters.
"I've thought more about what happened than all of you put together," Clinton said. "I've lost more sleep than all of you put together. I've been racking my brain about what could have been done, should have been done.”
Though there’s been intense scrutiny of how Clinton handled the attack and whether it could have been prevented, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, the conservative head of the panel, reminded speculators that the hearing wasn’t a trial.
“This is not a prosecution. I’ve reached no conclusions, and I would advise you not to reach any conclusions either,” he said to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, according to the New York Times.
Despite Gowdy’s assertion, many Democrats believe the prolonged congressional review is a political ploy designed to hinder Clinton’s bid for the presidency. At the end of September, the once-favored choice for the Speaker of the House position, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, suggested that it was.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping," McCarthy said at the time, according to Politico. "Why? 'Cause she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”
McCarthy rescinded his candidacy for the speaker position after the gaffe, but his remarks hung heavy over the hearing. Even Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the lead Democrat on the committee, believed the hearing was politically motivated and called it a "taxpayer-funded fishing expedition."
"They set them loose, Madame Secretary, because you're running for president," he told Clinton, according to Reuters.
Despite the fact that the congressional battle over Benghazi often focuses more on partisan politics, the former secretary of state was steadfast and seldom lost her composure, even when she was accused of manipulating the rhetoric around the terrorist attack to further her political ambitions.
"I think the insinuations you are making do a great disservice to the people at the State Department" and others who did their best "during some very confusing and difficult days,” Clinton said to Jordan, according to The New York Times.
"There is no doubt in my mind we did the best we could with the information we had at the time," she added.