At long last, Hillary Clinton testifies on the 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and her emails as secretary of state. Here are some suggested questions. Although these suggestions are based on the public record, we need to assume that the members of the House Benghazi Committee have seen far more than the public has. I have framed the questions in traditional cross-examination style, though I doubt that the politicians on the committee will have the self-discipline to adhere to it.
The theory of cross-examination — particularly of a high-profile, intelligent, belligerent or ruthless witness — is for the questioner to tell a story by asking questions that suggest answers that challenge the witness’s version of events or impeach the witness’s credibility. The questioner’s version of events must be based on credible evidence. In a courtroom, the questioner’s audience for his version of the events is the jury. In a congressional hearing, the audience is the American people.
I have publicly advised members of Congress that they should not ask any questions of Clinton; instead, they should have a prominent attorney who is her equal in intellect and knowledge of the law yet is a fierce, experienced cross-examiner do so. But the lure of TV cameras will probably cause the committee members to reject my advice. As well, some of the committee members are lawyers, and the committee’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, is a former federal prosecutor.
Anyway, here goes…
Mrs. Clinton, when you first became secretary of state, you were briefed on the proper use of emails, right? And you were informed of your obligation to preserve all governmental records that came into your possession and not destroy any of them, right? And you also were briefed on the proper handling of classified materials, weren’t you? In fact, Mrs. Clinton, you were presented with a written government oath that every federal employee who handles classified materials receives and must sign, correct? Isn’t it also true, Mrs. Clinton, that you never signed that oath?
Didn’t you pay a State Department employee — not an outside vendor — to install a private email server in your home in New York? And when you did that, you knew the practical effect of it would be to divert all your emails — governmental and personal — away from the government, right? And you used, did you not, that email system your employee in the State Department installed in your home as your exclusive email source during your tenure as secretary of state? And that email system was directly connected to the Internet, right?