News

Defiant Secretary Of State Clinton Takes On Lawmakers Over Benghazi Attack

House And Senate Members Go On The Offensive During Intense Questioning
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) – Tempers flared Wednesday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended her actions following the deadly attack on the American consulate in Libya.

Clinton testified in back-to-back hearings before the House and Senate, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

EXTRA: More from CBS News

It may have been her last appearance on Capitol Hill, but that didn’t guarantee Secretary Clinton a free pass. She was intensely questioned about the controversial 9/11 attack on the Benghazi consulate attack that left four Americans dead.

“We were misled that there were supposedly protests and an assault spraying out of that and it was easily obtained that it was not the fact the American people could have known that within days and they didn’t know that,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said.

“The fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” Clinton responded.

Congress was trying to get at why it took the Obama administration days to say that Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in a terror attack, not during the protest of an anti-Muslim film.

“Had I been president at the time and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

But despite the tough questions, Clinton said that she took the death of Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans quite personally, evidenced by her going with President Barack Obama to Andrews Air Force Base to welcome their caskets home.

“I put my arms around the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and the wives left alone to raise their children,” Clinton said.

In the House, congressmen wanted to know why Clinton allowed the public to think four State Department officials were fired in the scandal when they were merely reassigned.

“Under federal statue and regulations unsatisfactory leadership is not grounds for finding a breach of duty,” Clinton said.

Clinton will be leaving the State Department shortly, as soon as Sen. John Kerry is confirmed as her replacement. That has led to much speculation about the next step in her career — and whether running for president in 2016 is in the cards.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …