Inside Hillary Clinton's 'measured' Benghazi testimony

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, HOST, ‘SPECIAL REPORT’: 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 rally.

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 Blumenthal.


TREY GOWDY, R, S.C.: 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 you?


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-mail.

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 down?

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.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think that's a fair 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.


REP. JIM JORDNA, R-OHIO: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 fast-moving.

CLINTON: 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 with.

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 calm.

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 many 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.

BAIER: We're going to take you back to the hearing after a quick break. We'll go live there to the hearing room as the questioning will continue. The panel will stick around, we will get into substance. We will get into everything that happened today up on Capitol Hill.

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