In a heated exchange on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson took issue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s explanation of how she handled the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.
Clinton told members of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee that she accepted responsibility for not being aware of the warnings that the Benghazi facility wouldn’t be able to resist “a sustained assault,” but Johnson said the American people were misled as about the reasons for the attack in which four people were killed, according to a story by NBC News.
In her opening statement, Clinton told the committee: “As I have said many times since September 11, I take responsibility. Nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure.”
But, according to a story by the Huffington Post, Johnson later took issue with Clinton’s claim and said:
“We were misled to believe that there were supposedly protests and that an assault sprang out of that and that was easily ascertained that that was not the fact… and the American people could have known that within days.”
But Clinton interrupted Johnson, saying:
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. 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."
Following the exchange, Johnson went on the air with 620 WTMJ talk show host Charlie Sykes, telling him that Clinton was displaying “theatrics,” according to a story on the Business Insider.
"I wasn't trying to get under her skin," Johnson told Sykes. "I was trying to get a relatively simple question answered that she didn't want to answer."
Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton and the State Department have been blasted by Republicans after initially saying that the attack was provoked by a spontaneous assault by a mob angered by an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube. Department officials quickly amended their assessment to say the attack was not related to the video.
Clinton also has come under fire for not responding to requests made by personnel at the Benghazi mission prior to the attack to provide additional security for the facility. She told senators Wednesday that she never saw those requests because they would have reached her level.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday backed Clinton’s position and said: “(T)here has been an obvious political obsession over a series of talking points’ that bears no relevance to the essential issues at stake,” according to PatDollard.com.
“No one took more seriously the fact that we lost four American lives in Benghazi than the president of the United States and the secretary of state of the United States," the story quoted Carney as saying.
“And whatever was said — based on information provided by the intelligence community – on a series of Sunday shows bears no ultimate relevance” to the question of what happened and who was responsible for the attack, he added.