What happened during and after the Benghazi attack in 2012?

On Sept. 11, 2012, four Americans were killed during an attack on an American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, triggering an intricate sequence of events that led to years of political debate.

Here is a timeline of events depicting what actually happened, before and after the violent siege.

April 5, 2011: America increased its presence in Benghazi

Chris Stevens arrived in Benghazi to establish U.S. presence there as the government of Muammar Qaddafi was falling. Spring and Summer 2012: The security state in Benghazi deteriorated, especially toward Western targets.

May 26, 2012: Chris Stevens took control

Stevens became ambassador to Libya.

July 7, 2012: Libyan elections were held

National elections took place in Libya with high participation rates and relative peace.

Sept. 11, 2012: The infamous attack 

A U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, is attacked, killing four Americans: Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department employee Sean Smith, and CIA security contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

Sept. 16, 2012: Obama administration claimed the attack was inspired by YouTube video

Former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday political shows and said the attacks were spontaneous, and the result of an anti-Muslim video made by an American. Rice's statements lead to weeks of vague comments by the administration, which would not definitively say if the attacks were spontaneous or planned, or an act of terrorism or not. The vagueness fueled critics who alleged the administration was orchestrating a cover-up.

Nov. 6, 2012: President Obama reelected to a second term

President Obama defeated Mitt Romney to win reelection.

Dec. 19, 2012: State Department releases Benghazi report

The State Department's independent investigation into the Benghazi attacks released its report and did not implicate Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for any wrongdoing, but did recommend that senior officials who were found to have practiced unsatisfactory leadership be disciplined.

December 2012: State Department ignored security threat

The first of eight congressional committees investigating the Benghazi attacks released its report. This was a bipartisan report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that found that the State Department did not respond to dire security needs and that administration officials were inconsistent in publicly saying the attack was the result of a terrorist.

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Jan. 23, 2013: Hillary Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives her first testimony about Benghazi before Congress. She appears before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In the most memorable moment from her testimony, Clinton said: "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."

Feb. 1, 2013: Hillary Clinton resigns 

Clinton officially stepped down as secretary of state.

November 2014: Congressional report exonerates Clinton, Obama of wrongdoing

The House Intelligence Committee wrapped up its investigation that had lasted two years. The report did not find any wrongdoing on behalf of President Obama or Clinton and found that confusing statements made about the attacks were not intentional.

May 2014: House forms special committee to continue Benghazi investigation 

Not satisfied that the previous seven committees found no major wrongdoing other than the failure to respond to a deteriorating security situation in Benghazi, the House of Representatives voted mostly along party lines to form a special committee to investigate Benghazi and Clinton.

Sept. 17, 2014: The Select Committee on Benghazi holds its first hearing

Dec. 10, 2014: The committee holds its second hearing

Jan. 27, 2015: The committee holds its third hearing

March 2, 2015: Clinton personal email account use revealed

The committee found that Clinton used her own personal email account and not an email issued by the State Department.

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April 12, 2015: Clinton declares 2016 White House run

Clinton announces her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.

May 2015: Benghazi committee releases its interim report, which states they have found that more people have to be interviewed

October 2015: The committee interviews four of Clinton's closest advisers behind closed doors

Aug. 12, 2015: The FBI requests Clinton's private email server

Sept. 30, 2015: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested on Fox News that the Benghazi committee was formed to hurt Clinton's poll numbers

Oct. 11, 2015: Former Republican staffer on the Benghazi committee alleged that the committee's investigation became a partisan probe

Oct. 22, 2015: Clinton testifies before the committee about ignoring security threat 

In testimony that stretched deep into the night, the former secretary of state rejected Republican accusations that she ignored requests for security upgrades in Libya and misinformed the public about the cause of the attack by suspected Islamist militants.

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Dec. 12, 2016: House Committee shuts down

The House committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. compound at Benghazi, Libya, quietly shut down, more than five months after it released its findings -- timing that Democrats said proved its only purpose was to embarrass Hillary Clinton. When it publicized its findings in June, the House Select Committee on Benghazi didn't specifically blame Clinton for what it described as bureaucratic miscues and interagency blunders.

Oct. 2, 2017: Prosecutors open their case against Benghazi perpetrator 

Federal prosecutors opened their case against Ahmed Abu Khatallah by telling jurors he orchestrated the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Khatallah was captured by a team of U.S. military and FBI officials in Libya, and transported on a 13-day journey to the United States aboard a Navy vessel in 2014. He awaited trial for more than three years.

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Nov. 28, 2017: Jury returns verdict 

A U.S. jury acquitted accused Islamic militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah of some of the more serious charges he faced in connection with a 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.

The jury found Khatallah guilty on only four of the 18 counts he faced and acquitted him on murder and other charges, according to the Justice Department. He was later sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Khatallah was convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, one count of providing material support to terrorists, one count of maliciously destroying property, and one count of using and carrying a semiautomatic weapon during a violent crime, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia.