Senators inept while questioning Nuland on Benghazi

When it came to the manipulation of the Benghazi talking points, former State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland’s name surfaced in emails. In those emails, Nuland appeared to be an intermediary between the State Department and the C.I.A. On July 11th, Nuland appeared in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for her confirmation hearing after being named as the administration’s choice for assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.

One of those emails from Nuland was from Friday, September 14th, in which Nuland informed members of the intelligence community that talking points needed to be changes because her ‘building leadership’ was not satisfied. At the July 11th hearing, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) pressed Nuland to explain who comprised ‘building leadership’. Nuland ultimately responded that it was on person – Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan. This was perhaps the lone takeaway from the hearing for Republicans – Jake Sullivan’s involvement.

Here’s a clip from Fox News Special Report on the hearings:

UPDATE: Here is a video of the full exchange between Nuland and Johnson. To Johnson’s credit, he got Nuland to finally cough up a name when asking her to explain who represented ‘building leadership’. To his discredit, after asking Nuland for those names, Johnson allowed her to meander through her answer from 1:53 – 5:24 until he stopped her before she gave one name. In football jargon, it was a clock-killing drive with multiple first downs. Johnson should have stopped her at the 1:59 mark and said something like, “Excuse me, Ms. Nuland, my time is limited. When you referred to “building leadership”, who did you mean?” Johnson pressed a bit harder but only got Sullivan’s name at the end of the clip.

Had Johnson insisted on short answers to his questions, he would have been able to ask more of them and likely would have gotten more than one name:

Back in May, the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes wrote:

The CIA’s talking points, the ones that went out that Friday evening, were distributed via email to a group of top Obama administration officials. Forty-five minutes after receiving them, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed concerns about their contents, particularly the likelihood that members of Congress would criticize the State Department for “not paying attention to Agency warnings.” CIA officials responded with a new draft, stripped of all references to Ansar al Sharia.

In an email a short time later, Nuland wrote that the changes did not “resolve all my issues or those of my building leadership.” She did not specify whom she meant by State Department “building leadership.” Ben Rhodes, a top Obama foreign policy and national security adviser, responded to the group, explaining that Nuland had raised valid concerns and advising that the issues would be resolved at a meeting of the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee the following morning. The Deputies Committee consists of high-ranking officials at the agencies with responsibility for national security​—​including State, Defense, and the CIA​—​as well as senior White House national security staffers.

Of course, if ‘Building Leadership’ = Jake Sullivan, why didn’t Nuland write “Jake” instead of “Building Leadership” in her email?

The answer likely involves allowing Sullivan to take the inconsequential fall while protecting the others who make up ‘building leadership’. Seriously, if Sullivan is ‘Building leadership’ then he needs to be wearing a cape.

If you thought Nuland’s words while on-duty represented the words of Hillary Clinton, not only were you mistaken but those words were apparently only the words of Sullivan.

Hillary and Victoria

Hillary and Victoria

As we’ve reported, for all intents and purposes, Sullivan was rewarded for his work on Benghazi, with the position of top National Security Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden.

It appears that the Republicans on the Senate committee that is going to confirm Nuland has again proven to be impotent. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) once again showed he is either out of his league or doing the bidding of the establishment by asking Nuland a question that enabled the former spokesman to wipe clean any on-the-record suspicions of Hillary’s involvement. It was as if Rubio lobbed a softball that Nuland smacked over the fence so Hillary could round the bases.

As was the case during Hillary’s testimony in front of the committee on January 23rd, Rand Paul was one of the few bright spots.

Correction: We initially reported that Nuland testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This was incorrect. She testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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