October 25, 2015

It looks like Chuck Todd got the same set of talking points as Fox's Chris Wallace on the Republican Benghazi witch hunt, because they sure looked like they were reading off of the same script this Sunday. Wallace hosted an entire panel segment whining about why the Democrats gave Clinton a pass during the hearing this week, and NBC's Chuck Todd went after the ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings for exactly the same thing.

Someone needs to remind Todd that this is not the first hearing anyone has held on Benghazi, not that I expect it to do much good. He's more interested in being a good little water carrier for Republicans than any criticisms lobbed at him.

Here he is helping Republicans to beat their dead horse and going after Cummings on this Sunday's Meet the Press:

CHUCK TODD: Let me start quickly with I guess the one issue that a lot of people had with how the Democrats handled themselves. We tallied up 68 total questions to Secretary Clinton. Sixteen of them at best could we call "challenging." Why did you guys choose a strategy of shield rather than a strategy of really what Tammy Duckworth did, probably the one Democrat that did it the most, of conducting the hearing, asking questions about the security situation?

ELIJAH CUMMINGS: From the very beginning, Chuck, I said we were looking for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And in many instances, we found ourselves having to not defend Secretary Clinton, but to make sure that the record was complete.

And I'm glad that the public had an opportunity to see all of that. And I mean, when you're looking at what we were asking about, they were the things that went to Benghazi, the things that we were supposed to be dealing with from the very beginning. And when the families came in, many of them with tears in their eyes, they asked us to only do three things. One, they asked us to make sure that we made sure that this did not happen again.

They wanted us to look for the facts, more facts than we already had. And they asked us for one final thing. They asked us to make sure that we did not turn this into a political football. So all we were trying to do is make sure that we defended the truth.

CHUCK TODD: Well, there was one new fact I think that a lot of people came away with. And that was the characterization of the attack itself. And there's always been this controversy that the White House was conflating the video issues that took place versus what happened in Benghazi that night.

One of the emails said, that was turned up was an email Secretary Clinton, I'm going to put it up here, to her daughter Chelsea Clinton, who, by the way, used the pseudonym "Diane Reynolds" in her email, and on September 11th, that night, Secretary Clinton classified it as a terrorist attack by an Al Qaeda-like group. Three days later, Secretary Clinton said this:

HILLARY CLINTON (ON TAPE): We've seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We've seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with.

CHUCK TODD: Did that trouble you, that there were two stories here? And does that deserve an extra line of inquiry?

ELIJAH CUMMINGS: No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I thought the secretary explained it very well. Remember what she said during the hearing, and she said this over and over again, that on the night of the incident, Ansar Al-sharia said that they had committed this offense. So when she was writing a note to her daughter, emailing her daughter, and making those statements, that was one thing.

The next day, and then by the way, they were getting intelligence from a lot of folks. And some of it said it was with regard to the video. Others said that it was an attack. And so therefore, the information was flawed. And the information that she got even from the intelligence community was a little bit mixed.

So she was basically talking about what she knew at those moments. And I've got to tell you, Chuck, one of the things that we have to give her credit for is when she was turning over her emails, that email to her daughter, you could've easily considered that personal. But because she mentioned the attacks, she included that in the stacks of emails that she turned over to the committee. And that just goes to show you that she was trying to do the right thing.

CHUCK TODD: There's been some talk that you and the rest of the Democrats might resign from the committee and not see this through. Where are you on that this morning?

ELIJAH CUMMINGS: We have decided to stay on the committee because somebody has to be in the room to defend the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And if you think about it, if you listen to the questions that were being asked by Republicans and the way they tried to attack her, you really did need to have Democrats in the room to give the other side of the story.

Not so much as to defend her, but to try to make sure that the complete picture was painted. One of the things that I have asked Chairman Gowdy to do is release all the transcripts with appropriate redactions for sensitivity. Because I want the public to actually see what's in these transcripts.

Because I believe that once they see what's in the transcripts, they will have a pretty good idea of what this is all about. And it will verify what Congressman McCarthy said, it will verify what Congressman Hanna said and the self-described Republican conservative employee, what he said.

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