All-Star Panel: Reaction to Hillary Clinton's interview on FNC

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 18, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This was the fog of war. My own assessment careened from the video had something to do with it, the video had nothing to do with it. It may have affected some people, it didn't affect other people. There is no doubt terrorists were involved.  There is no doubt. But others were either motivated because of their extremism and their ideology, and others came along for the ride and maybe others also were motivated by the video.

FRED BURTON, STRATFOR GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE: There's nobody that I spoke to that was associated with this attack or investigated this attack that thought that the video played any role whatsoever. The facts depicted a different narrative than what was conveyed post-Benghazi to the American public.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: That was Fred Burton, and he is the co-author of "Under Fire."  It's a book about Benghazi and it's really the most detailed construction of the attack in a book as of yet. We are back with the panel. There you see the book. A.B., what about Hillary Clinton and specifically on the Benghazi part? She did make other news about separating from the president on the IRS and other things, but what about that?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: I thought she made news on Benghazi obviously telling us the president was in the Oval Office, but by saying pretty much at times she doesn't know. And I thought that was news in and of itself. She chose, I think, the political, the shrewd political route to not fight with you and our answers to the questions, knowing you are well prepared, knowing that you would counter her likely. And so several times, she said I wasn't sure, and she said my own assessment careened from it was the video to it wasn't. She used euphemisms like "fog of war." The country is a learning organism. We have to find out how to be in difficult places. She said information comes at you and it takes time to sort it out, what's accurate and inaccurate.

She really made the decision, Bret, to basically say I didn't make all the decisions, and I'm not really sure. And in the end we know that she went with the video narrative days later and she stuck with it. The point is here last night she decided not to get into combat with you because her advisors told her that that would not be a mistake, and I think it would have been.

BAIER: She actually went the video on that night on 9/11/2012 where she released a statement that said Benghazi was about the video specifically.

STODDARD: She had qualms that went back and forth.

BAIER: But the careening --

STODDARD: The careening settled on the video ultimately, yes.

BAIER: Take another listen to this part, Charles, on Ansar al Sharia.


BAIER: I guess the question is why is the State Department telling the Libyans, the Libyan ambassador, it was Ansar al Sharia, and yet telling the American people at the same time it was this video?

CLINTON: Well, Bret, I think that you have to take both ideas at the same time I don't know anybody saying it is only the video now, but I think at the time there was a lot of information flowing around that we were trying to assess that at least it played a part.


BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That's known as a flail. She had no answer to that. It was a pointed question. Your own State Department Beth Jones, acting assistant secretary Near East affairs telling the Libyans it's it the terror group Ansar al Sharia, and you -- your State Department issues a statement it's the video. It is a direct contradiction. She had no answer. She said you have to hold both ideas, and then she goes off. But there is nowhere to hide on this.

And clearly on the Sunday when Susan Rice goes on and says it's it the video, she says "I don't know anybody who was saying it's only the video.  Well, she says "now." But at the time that's what they said. There wasn't a lot of careening. There was a lot of video, and we know it was a false narrative. I think that was her weakest moment, and it showed what a direct question will do unlike the question that she got in Congress that was all over the place.

BAIER: It was an interesting interview in that we had to split the time.  What I didn't get about the video going down that line of questioning she also told the families of those who died at that ceremony that they were going to go after the person behind the video.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Right. And we know what the White House ultimately settled on. We have the e-mail from Ben Rhodes that said tell the story that this was video. There is no question where the White House ultimately ended up. And we also know that Ansar al Sharia was scrubbed from the originally CIA produced set of talking points. So you don't take those together as she suggested there. You separate them out and you tell the truth.

BAIER: So as someone looking at this interview, saying so what does it matter now?

HAYES: To coin a phrase, what difference does it make? Look, I think it matters for her. I think she did very well in the first part of your interview, when you first were asking her questions about Benghazi, sort of a just the facts ma'am questions. She answered if quickly and decisively.  She didn't seem defensive, and I thought she did very well.

You had two questions in your second set of questions to her where she really struggled. One of them was on this question about Ansar al Sharia which she gave sort of a nonsensical answer that contradicts the facts.  And the second is on what she is taking responsibility for. You mentioned the Diane Sawyer interview, she said "I take responsibility." She said the same thing in her congressional testimony. The obvious question, the good question that you asked is, for what? And she had no answer because she is not actually taking responsibility for anything. Saying I'm taking responsibility is a very good talking point. But unless you are actually taking responsibility, it doesn't get you off the hook once somebody asks you.

BAIER: Can you type that up for Twitter?


BAIER: That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see who could learn a thing or two about America's pass time. 

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