Before we circle back to Hillary's statement on ABC News' This Week, let's lay some groundwork first. During her sworn testimony before the Benghazi Select Committee in October, Hillary Clinton was confronted with evidence that she had a clear-eyed understanding of the nature of those attacks within hours of their occurrence. On the night of the attack, she sent an email to her daughter lamenting that several American "officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Queda-like group." The next morning, she sent the following assessment to a top Egyptian diplomat:
Stood in front of 4 flag draped coffins and blamed YouTube pic.twitter.com/NoUZhytQTN— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) October 22, 2015
"We know that the lack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack -- not a protest." That assessment was accurate. It reflected the terrible reality that US officials were able to ascertain "almost immediately," according to the CIA director at the time. As I wrote last month, "State Department documents [also] confirm this. And Amb. Chris Stevens' second-in-command testified that the obscure online film was a 'non event' on the ground in Libya." Yet by the time the murdered Americans' flag-draped coffins arrived home several days later, the Obama administration was in full-blown election season spin mode, which entailed muddying the waters on whether the deadly raid was, in fact, a premeditated terrorist attack. At the now-infamous Andrews Air Force base ceremony on September 14, 2012, Hillary Clinton told grieving family members that their loved ones had been murdered by a bloodthirsty mob incited by an online anti-Islam video. Four different relatives of three separate victims have publicly shared that recollection, including one who jotted down notes shortly after the meeting:
"I gave Hillary a hug and shook her hand. And she said 'we are going to have the film maker arrested who was responsible for the death of your son,'" recalls Tyrone Woods' father, reading directly from his written record from that day. Sean Smith's mother and uncle remember the same thing, as does Glen Doherty's sister. Now watch Hillary's performance from this past Sunday. Note how anchor George Stephanopoulos, to his credit, asks a very specific question, preceded by clips of statements from several of the aforementioned family members:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you tell them it was about the film? And what's your response?
CLINTON: No. You know, look I understand the continuing grief at the loss that parents experienced with the loss of these four brave Americans. And I did testify, as you know, for 11 hours. And I answered all of these questions. Now, I can't -- I can't help it the people think there has to be something else there. I said very clearly there had been a terrorist group, uh, that had taken responsibility on Facebook, um, between the time that, uh, I – you know, when I talked to my daughter, that was the latest information; we were, uh, giving it credibility. And then we learned the next day it wasn’t true. In fact, they retracted it. This was a fast-moving series of events in the fog of war and I think most Americans understand that.
Did you tell the families that the attack was about the film? Answer: No. Justin has addressed her subsequent "fog of war" dissembling, which is belied by the fact that she consistently managed to get it right in private discussions, while peddling a very different tale in public. But let's ignore that part of her answer for the moment. She was asked a direct question: Did she, or did she not, tell those family members that the Internet film was responsible for their loved ones' deaths? She says she did not. This is a direct contradiction of very explicit memories shared on the record by multiple people who have far less incentive to lie than, say, a truth-challenged politician seeking power. This should be a serious problem for Hillary Clinton. The media spent an enormous amount of time fact-checking Donald Trump's false claim about watching "thousands" of Muslims dancing in the streets of New Jersey on live television after 9/11. Here we have the presumptive Democratic nominee essentially arguing that Benghazi victims' relatives are either forgetful simpletons, or liars. How mysterious that they all "forgot" in exactly the same way, and that their "lies" all match up. Is this another one of those conspiracies Hillary sees around every corner when her political ambitions are threatened? Stephanopoulos didn't follow-up on this point during the interview. Other journalists should, relentlessly. She's sure she didn't blame the video in those discussions? If so, why are the families saying she did? And if they're inventing a collective memory out of whole cloth, is it just a coincidence that Hillary happened to invoke that video during her public remarks that day? And that another administration spokesperson made the same untrue connection on national television the next day? C'mon.