When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared before the first congressional hearing on the Benghazi attack, she seemed to have all the answers.
That could be because prior to the hearing, Clinton’s aides guaranteed the first questions were exactly the ones Clinton wanted to hear, according to a new email released by the group Citizens United through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The email from Philippe Reines to Chelsea Clinton made it clear the first questions Clinton got from Sen. Robert Menendez, D- N.J., were planted by her aides.
“We wired it that Menendez would provide an opportunity to address two topics we needed to debunk (her actions/whereabouts on 9/11, and these email [sic] from Chris Stevens about moving locations),” Reines wrote to Chelsea Clinton the morning of the Jan. 23, 2013 hearing.
In reporting on the email, Fox News noted that Menendez, acting chair of the Foreign Relation Committee, asked for Clinton’s “insights on the decision-making process regarding the location of the Mission.” He also asked, “… what actions were you and your staff taking the night of Sept. 11 and into Sept. 12?”
Clinton had her answers ready.
“(Ambassador) Chris (Stevens) was committed to not only being in Benghazi but to the location,” she said to answer the first part of the question.
“I was notified of the attack shortly after 4:00 p.m. Over the following hours, we were in continuous meetings and conversations both within the department with our team in Tripoli, with the interagency and internationally,” she added.
Stevens was one of the four Americans killed in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton’s role in providing security for the diplomats, as well as her response to the attack, have been controversial.
“This email chain provides a rare behind the scenes look at which Benghazi-related issues the Clinton camp had concerns about going into Secretary Clinton’s January 2013 testimony on Capitol Hill, and what they had apparently plotted out beforehand with a Democrat committee member to deal with those concerns,” Citizens United said in a statement. “… the American people have a right to know the full picture.”
Neither the Clinton campaign nor Menendez’s office would comment on the email.
The Citizens United probe is one of many in which emails of Clinton and her circle of aides are being used to get a fuller picture of the Benghazi attacks and their aftermath.
However, many of Clinton’s emails have been deleted. The FBI noted last week that thousands of emails were deleted after the public revelation of her use of a private server for her emails while she was Secretary of State.
That mass deletion of emails has prompted a call by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chair of the House Oversight Committee, for an investigation into Clinton’s conduct.
“In light of this information, the Department should investigate and determine whether Secretary Clinton or her employees and contractors violated statutes that prohibit destruction of records, obstruction of congressional inquiries, and concealment or cover up of evidence material to a congressional investigation,” he wrote to the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.