Clinton leaks memoir chapter that unloads on critics of her Benghazi response
Hillary Clinton, in an intentionally leaked chapter of her highly anticipated memoir -- coinciding with a flurry of activity surrounding the book release and her potential 2016 candidacy -- unloads on critics of the administration's response to the Benghazi terror attack.
In the book, the former secretary of State accuses her detractors of using the tragedy as a "political tool" and seemingly threatens to sit out a newly launched congressional probe.
Passages from Clinton's chapter on Benghazi, titled "Benghazi: Under Attack," were published Friday by Politico. The leak comes shortly after Clinton met Thursday at the White House with President Obama, for what was described as an "informal, private lunch." And Clinton advisers were meeting Friday morning in Washington with Democratic groups.
According to Politico, Clinton uses the 34-page chapter on Benghazi to rebut criticisms and rebuke critics.
"Those who exploit this tragedy over and over as a political tool minimize the sacrifice of those who served our country," Clinton reportedly wrote.
She also seemed to make reference to the election-year select committee being led by congressional Republicans, saying: "I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It's just plain wrong, and it's unworthy of our great country. Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me."
In the chapter, the former secretary decried the "speculation and flat-out deceit" surrounding the attack, while apparently taking responsibility and describing her grief over the four deaths as a "punch in the gut."
Despite her claims, Republicans say it was the White House and others in the administration who were deceiving lawmakers and the public about the nature of the attack. New concerns about the administration's public narrative in the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2012, are what led the House to form a select committee to investigate. The controversy resurfaced following the release of emails in which a White House adviser discussed a "prep call" for then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, stressing the role of an anti-Islam video. Rice came under fire for repeatedly saying the Sunday after the attack, incorrectly, that protests over an anti-Islam film were to blame.
Clinton, in her book, reportedly defended Rice, saying she got her talking points from existing intelligence. Further, Clinton argued it is still "inaccurate" to say none of the attackers were influenced by the video.
Clinton insisted as well that she never saw cables requesting more security at the Benghazi compound.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who has clashed with Clinton over Benghazi in the past, told Fox News in response to the book excerpts: "Sounds like a carefully crafted framework for a defense that answers nothing."
Politico also reported Friday that former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor was being brought on by Clinton's team to help with the response to the book. Vietor stirred controversy earlier this month after he brushed off a question about talking points editing during an interview on Fox News. "Dude, this was like two years ago," Vietor said.
At the meeting of Clinton aides in Washington on Friday, at the headquarters of the centrist think tank "Third Way," one Democratic operative who attended told Fox News that it was called "to discuss the Democratic message on national security."
Sources also confirmed that they discussed Clinton's book, and specifically Benghazi and the congressional select committee probe.
Another Democratic source said: "It was just a bunch of us nerds. We have these meeting all the time."