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Benghazi report author defends Clinton despite ‘grossly inadequate’ security before attack

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The 42-year veteran of the U.S. State Department who wrote a report chiding it for “grossly inadequate” security measures at the consulate building in Benghazi, Libya leading up to a September 2012 attack defended former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Sunday from repeated Republican criticism.

Ambassador Thomas Pickering told MSNBC host Alex Witt that GOP lawmakers’ insistence that Clinton was part of a cover-up after the attack “seems to me to have drifted now very much into the realm of political partisanship.”

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Pickering co-chaired the department’s Accountability Review Board (ARB) concerning the Sept. 11, 2012 attack, which resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. He also pushed back on accusations from House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-CA) that the board’s report focused on low-level staffers.

“We did, of course, see Secretary Clinton. We saw her two deputies. We saw the undersecretary,” Pickering told Witt. “The assistant secretary, who was among those who we felt failed in the performance of duty, is not a low-level official.”

According to the Associated Press, Pickering also said in an appearance on Meet The Press Sunday that he was willing to be part of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s May 8 hearing on the attack but was blocked from participating. Committee member Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said he would request private testimony from both Pickering and retired Adm. Mike Mullin, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Pickering’s ARB co-chair.

The report, (PDF) released in December 2012, concluded that security at the facility was not equipped to handle the attack due to “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies” by senior State Department staff members. Pickering said it constituted “the most thorough account of the events leading up to Benghazi and what actually happened the night of the attacks.”

However, he did not offer an opinion on the much-criticized talking points issued by the White House after the attack, later found to be edited multiple times.

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“I did not study in detail the question of the talking points,” he told Witt. “Therefore, I have to tell you I reserve judgement on that particular issue. Had I been asked to study that in detail — it was not part of our report — I would certainly have an opinion for you.”

Watch Pickering’s interview with Witt, aired on MSNBC on Sunday, below.

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After Trump: No free pass for Republicans — they own this nightmare

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With the impeachment inquiry leveling up this month as public hearings begin, and with an election that might actually be the end of Donald Trump now less than a year away, the campaign to let Trump's Republican allies — even the most villainous offenders — move on and pretend this never happened is already underway.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Sadly, the clearest articulation of the let-bygones-be-bygones mentality has come from a Democrat — unsurprisingly, former Vice President Joe Biden.Biden, who is still, somehow, the frontrunner in Democratic primary polling, spoke at a chi-chi fundraiser on Wednesday, and dropped this pearl of wisdom: "With Donald Trump out of the way, you’re going to see a number of my Republican colleagues have an epiphany."

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As climate crisis-fueled fires rage, fears grow of an ‘uninhabitable’ California

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As activist Bill McKibben put it, "We've simply got to slow down the climate crisis."

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‘A profound emoluments clause violation’: Andrew Napolitano slams Trump’s hosting the G7 at Doral

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In the wake of acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's announcement this Thursday that next year's G7 summit will be hosted at President Trump's Doral golf club, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano pointed out that Trump would be violating the emoluments clause if he were to go through with the move.

At the outset of the segment, Fox Business Network anchor Neil Cavuto said that the announcement is "effectively saying the president has given himself this contract."

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