Inside Hillary Clinton's measured Benghazi testimony

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," October 22, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Let's bring in our special expanded panel for some thoughts on
the day. Steve Hayes, senior writer for the Weekly Standard; Judge
Andrew Napolitano, Fox News senior judicial analyst; A.B. Stoddard associate
editor of The Hill; and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.


STEVE HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: I would say the lead from the day so
far is Hillary Clinton repeatedly offers false or misleading testimony and
journalists yawn. Journalists just don't seem to be that interested in
what she's been saying.

And I'll give you one example in particular. Secretary Clinton was
presented with e-mails from Representative Jim Jordan. An e-mail that she
sent to Hillary Clinton on the night of the attack, September 11th, 2012
saying that it was an al Qaeda attack.

BAIER: Sent to Chelsea.

HAYES: Sent to Chelsea Clinton -- I'm sorry. Hillary Clinton to
Chelsea Clinton saying it was an al Qaeda attack. And then this memo that
was taken by a State Department note-taker recording a conversation between
Hillary Clinton and the Egyptian prime minister September 12th. In both of
those instances, Hillary Clinton was saying this was an attack. This was
not a protest. She said in the phone conversation with the Egyptian prime
minister and said that it had nothing to do with the video.

And yet, two days later on September 14th, when she greets the caskets
at Joint Base Andrews in suburban Washington, D.C., she tells some of the
family members of those killed in Benghazi that she and the government were
determined to get the film maker who was responsible for the death of their

You can't have it both ways.

BAIER: All right. As we take a live look, Judge. They've just taken
a break. They're going to be back at 6:14. We will be back when they go
back into session and the questioning. We're now on our third round -- the
beginning of the third round. There are supposed to be four rounds. This
could be a long, long situation.


BAIER: Your thoughts on the day.

NAPOLITANO: I look at this from the point of view of three audiences
she should be thinking about addressing. The first is the members of
Congress that are there in the room. The second is the American public
which she wants to have elect her president.

And the third I think she's forgotten about, that's about 25 FBI
agents and investigators in the Justice Department not far from where she
testified today who are looking at the following things she said. They're
looking for material misrepresentations. They're looking for the
willingness to deceive. They're looking for actual material lies,
remember, she's under oath. And they're looking for how many different
versions she can possibly give of the various events.

And I suggest to you that they found a field day today. My colleague
Steve Hayes has just outlined a couple of her deceptions and different
versions. Remember, she can be prosecuted for misleading congress as well
as for lying to congress. She is under oath. This is not a political

She's also being investigated by the FBI for at least four crimes:
espionage; the failure to secure national security secrets; destruction of
government property - wiping the server clean; lying under oath to a
federal judge when she said she gave the government everything. And I
think the FBI has a lot more to go on today as a result of the testimony
because she forget about that third and hidden audience.

BAIER: A.B., to hear a lot of people talk about this, they say
there's an overabundance of focus and coverage on Sidney Blumenthal. There
was several rounds of questions about it, from different lawmakers -- Trey
Gowdy among them.

Sid Blumenthal not a part of the government apparatus; in fact he was
turned down by the White House to work with his old friend, Hillary
Clinton. But he was still providing what he called intelligence and she
was still accepting it. Here's the back-and-forth with Trey Gowdy on Sid


GOWDY: Regardless of where he ranked in order of the advisers, it is
undisputed that a significant number of your e-mails were to or from a
Sidney Blumenthal. Did the President know that Mr. Blumenthal was advising

CLINTON: He wasn't advising me.

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 on e-

GOWDY: That's fair. I'm not challenging that, Madam Secretary. I am
not challenging that. My question to you is did the President, 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.


BAIER: She went on to say that she used some of those e-mails and the
memos that he sent on, took his name off of it and circulated it in intel
circles and at the White House.

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Right. Well, most Americans don't know
who Sid Blumenthal is. We've discussed these very e-mails here in the last
couple of weeks. We talked about how clear it is that he's a friend -- the
e-mails are solicited. There's a back and forth -- there's 500 or more of
them. She's very encouraging and enthusiastic.

He gives her all kinds of advice, disparages other people. And it's a
free-flowing exchange and they're in constant contact. "I'm on a plane
now, I'll talk to you as soon as I get off."

What she did today was brilliant. She was an impeccable witness
because there are no sound bites where she implodes. She both said he was
not an adviser and in turn said sometimes the information was so valuable
she thought the ambassador in Libya should have it to read and respond to.

So she never -- it was the same with the discussion about the video.
Why did you throw out the video line? She managed to never become
defensive. She was masterful. And that's why there's no sound bite where
she freaks out and gives -- if it ends up that she's perjured herself and
we're only halfway through this fine. We'll find that out tomorrow. Her
performance right now is better than the Democrats on that committee and
better than the Republicans.

BAIER: Clearly measured and different from the sound bite that got a
lot of pick-up, Charles, last time. "What difference does it make" in that
whole exchange. But the Sid Blumenthal e-mails -- everybody is saying,
what difference does that make. Is this not a rabbit hole they're going

But in the context of Chris Stevens whose e-mails a lot of them
arrived at the committee this week, he did not have direct access to
Hillary Clinton asking for security improvements, but Sid Blumenthal did.

point. But I think the committee spent, Republicans on the committee spent
much too much time on that. If you're talking about the Benghazi affair,
the lack of security at the beginning, who knows what happened during the
attack. And then the outright lies afterwards. The fact that Sid had the
e-mail address and the ambassador didn't is a point, but it's a very minor
point. It's not going to persuade anybody.

Look, Trey Gowdy is a terrific interrogator. If you ever want to
commit a murder, you make sure you do it in the district where he is not
the prosecutor because you might have a chance. But I think he wasted a
lot of his valuable time on that.

There was new information, damning information. I think this e-mail
that she sent to her daughter and the phone call she made with the prime
minister of Egypt are really quite shocking.

BAIER: Well, let's listen to that again. It's also clipped with what
she said before. And also what she told the father of Tyrone Woods.


The 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 of
this video, you said to your family, two officers were killed today in
Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group. State Department experts knew the
truth, you knew the truth -- but that's not what the American people got.

CLINTON: I think if you look at the statement that I made I clearly
said that it was an attack. There was a lot of conflicting information
that we were trying to make sense of. The situation was very fluid, it was

We've seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the
lives of those brave men. We've seen rage and violence directed at
American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do

CHARLES WOODS, FATHER OF TYRONE WOODS: Well this is what Hillary did.
She came over and I gave her a hug, shook her hand and she did not appear
to be one bit sincere at all. And you know, she mentioned that thing about
we're going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.


BAIER: That's the father of Tyrone Woods, who died in the attack.

KRAUTHAMMER: That's the heart of a scandalous reaction after the
attack. They knew it was a terror attack. They got it from Gregory Hicks,
who was on the ground in Tripoli who told them that. He ended up demoted
in the State Department for having transgressed against the secretary.

And yet, they go ahead, they put Susan Rice on that weekend and tell a
tale that is completely false -- spontaneous demonstration, out of control,
et cetera, of the video. I think that's where the emphasis ought to be.

But I think A.B. is right. The judge said there are three audiences.
The main audience that matters unless she's indicted is the people --
American people watching this. They don't care about Blumenthal. She had
her way, when she lowered her voice, and talked about the sleepless nights,
it was a gripping performance, which is the way I would put it so I can
remain neutral on this.

But showing that she really cared, et cetera or at least giving that
impression -- and that's what's going to be shown. And the only thing
that's going to be shown on the committee other than that in the clips is
going to be that Trey Gowdy interchange with Cummings which of course is a
conflict reality TV and a nice little bit of heat.

We're not going to get the contradictions. We're not going to get the
facts. We're not going to get the real story underlying it. We're living
in an age where what you say and its relation with the facts is completely
irrelevant as we see in the presidential campaign. And it's carrying over
into the hearings.

BAIER: Well I mean, how much did what Kevin McCarthy said before this
hearing affect the outcome of this hearing. We knew the Republicans had a
high bar to go over. But it seemed like the bar even went up further
because of all the preamble to this hearing.

HAYES: No question. I think journalists in Washington, covering the
campaign, covering this issue wanted to disregard the committee. They
didn't want to have to pay attention to the committee. Kevin McCarthy gave
them the excuse they needed. So now they can sort of wipe this off and
move on.

Let me just say, I agree with A.B. and Charles and she gave an
impressive performance. I mean she was unflappable. She maintained her

BAIER: Let's just point out, we're halfway through.

HAYES: Halfway through. Thus far she maintained --

BAIER: I mean we're talking 10:00, 11:00 p.m. -- maybe later.

KRAUTHAMMER: And the longer it goes, the better it helps her.

BAIER: I mean we've had some late-night primary coverage, where we
got a little punchy here at the table. I can only imagine.

NAPOLITANO: I'm going to argue that the longer it goes, the more it
hurts her because the more Q&A to which she has to respond, is more fodder
for the FBI to examine with respect to prior inconsistency.

BAIER: And even longer it goes for Republicans.


There's two ways to look at it -- politically and legally.

HAYES: Right. You're right.

NAPOLITANO: The more ammunition you give the FBI, the more they have
to work with. But politically, I agree with A.B., she was masterful.

STODDARD: I think that she is as a presumptive nominee, she's not
invincible. She's not inevitable. She's under FBI investigation. That is
a far more serious nightmare for her than this hearing today. She knew how
to get through it and she did.

No matter what Kevin McCarthy said, some of the questioning today was
loaded with comment and it shouldn't have been. And some of it was rude
and obnoxious. The Democrats were gratuitously partisan --

HAYES: Clinton was talking to the Democrats.

STODDARD: No, the Democrats were gratuitously partisan --

HAYES: They were.

STODDARD: -- but the Republicans were often rude and obnoxious and
they injected too much comments and that played to her.

HAYES: A couple of them, I think.


STODDARD: And that really just obviously played to her.

HAYES: Let me make my fundamental point. I think she gave an
impressive performance if you judge it based on her demeanor.


HAYES: For anybody who actually cares about substance and facts, she
tripped up on herself on, you know, arguably some of the most important
aspects of the Benghazi controversy. The false narrative that the
administration sold to the country six weeks before the election because
the President had started six months before the election to spin a tale
about al Qaeda being on the run and it wasn't.

She compounded her problems, because she was presented with her own
words that contradicted everything they had said. And she had no answer
for it. So if you care about substance and facts, she's in trouble. The
problem is that's conditional.

BAIER: And that's the issue.


NAPOLITANO: Who cares about substance and facts? Our friends in the
Justice Department.

KRAUTHAMMER: I understand. But we're talking about here, her impact
on her public image. This is the book-end to her performance in the
debate. It's all about --

BAIER: So you look at this week, the debate performance, Vice
President Biden doesn't run and now this. Up until now, this has been a
pretty good week.

KRAUTHAMMER: It's what I've been saying for three months, unless
indicted she can't lose the nomination.

BAIER: Very quickly.

STODDARD: Unless indicted she can look back to today if they ask
about any e-mail question that has to do with the FBI investigation on
Benghazi, she says, I've answered 16 hours of questions on this.

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