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Carney: Benghazi Has "Been Subject To Attempts To Politicize It By Republicans"

QUESTION: Jay, in advance of today’s hearing on Benghazi, Senator Lindsey Graham said, I think the dam is about to break on Benghazi. We’re going to find people asleep at the switch when it comes to the State Department, including Hillary Clinton. What do you say to this allegation from top Republicans that Hillary Clinton was asleep at the switch?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’d say a couple of things. This administration has made extraordinary efforts to work with five different congressional committees investigating what happened before, during, and after the Benghazi attacks, including, over the past eight months, testifying in 10 congressional hearings, holding 20 staff briefings, and providing over 25,000 pages of documents.

Another leading Senate Republican, Senator Corker, said today that he feels like he knows what happened in Benghazi and he is, “fairly satisfied.” And as The New York Times reported this morning, much of what the witnesses were expected to raise in the hearings today has already been addressed both in hearings and in the Accountability Review Board report.

I mean this is a subject that has, from its beginning, been subject to attempts to politicize it by Republicans, when, in fact, what happened in Benghazi was a tragedy. And the President has been committed from day one to two things -- making sure that those who are responsible for the deaths of four Americans are found and brought to justice, and that we do everything we need to do to ensure that this kind of attack cannot happen again. And the standing up of the Accountability Review Board by then-Secretary Clinton, with the full support of the President, demonstrates the seriousness with which she took this issue.

That review board issued a report that was unsparing and highly critical in some areas, and was led by two highly respected nonpartisan experts in the field of national security, Admiral Mullen and Ambassador Pickering. And that report issued contained within it a series of recommendations, every single one of which has been acted on or is being acted on by the State Department. And I think, again, that demonstrates the seriousness with which we took the true issues here.

It also, given the remarkable level of cooperation that we’ve demonstrated with congressional committees and investigators thus far, demonstrates again that we’re at a place where there are attempts to politicize this when that should not be the case.

Q Why do you think they’re going after Hillary Clinton?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I’m not sure that they are. I will note that in the report issued by the committee, Chairman Issa’s committee -- which was, again -- deliberately excluded Democrats, was highly partisan -- it included a main allegation within it that was described by The Washington Post Factchecker this way: “Issa has no basis or evidence to show that Clinton [then-Secretary Clinton] had anything to do with this cable any more than she personally approved a cable on proper email etiquette. The odds are extremely long that Secretary Clinton ever saw or approved this memo, giving us confidence that his inflammatory and reckless language qualifies as a whopper” -- that would be Chairman Issa’s language.

Q So the White House is confident that Hillary Clinton acted appropriately throughout this process?

MR. CARNEY: We are. And I think I would point you to the Accountability Review Board and what --

Q Which didn’t --

MR. CARNEY: I think I would point you to the report the put out. I would point you to what the two heads of that board, Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen -- each highly praised by both sides of the aisle for their long, distinguished careers -- put out in a statement this week: “From the beginning of the ARB process, we had unfettered access to everyone and everything, including all of the documentation we needed. Our marching orders were to get to the bottom of what happened, and that is what we did.”

Again, this is an unsparing report done by two career professionals, nonpartisan career professionals, that contain within it very serious recommendations, found shortcomings that needed to be corrected, and the State Department acted immediately on that.

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