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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.”

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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.

“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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‘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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Modi tells Xi summit will launch ‘new era’ for India and China

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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Saturday that his summit with Chinese leader Xi Xinping would launch a "new era" between the neighbours who are seeking to overcome troublesome differences.

Modi and Xi strolled along a pristine Bay of Bengal beach and held one-on-one talks overlooking the ocean before their delegations sat down to official negotiations at the historic resort town of Mahbalipuram, south of Chennai.

The two leaders are meeting for the second time in a year in a bid to ease tensions over border disputes, the troubled Kashmir region and China's domination of trade between their huge economies.

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Trump calls for impeachment of Mitt Romney for criticizing him in rambling tweet

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Hours after Donald Trump attacked Sen. Mitt Romney for being critical of his call for the Chinese to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden, the president was back for another round, calling for the Utah Republiocan to be impeached.

Claiming without evidence that voters in Utah are turning on their senator, Trump claimed, "I’m hearing that the Great People of Utah are considering their vote for their Pompous Senator, Mitt Romney, to be a big mistake. I agree! He is a fool who is playing right into the hands of the Do Nothing Democrats!" followed by:  #IMPEACHMITTROMNEY

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