Donald Trump reacted to Hillary Clinton’s testimony during Thursday’s Benghazi hearing in typical Trump fashion.
“I watched maybe five or six minutes, maybe 10 minutes, her opening remarks, and the way she was reading them, it sounded terrible,” Trump told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Former Secretary of State and current Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, testified on Capitol Hill before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Thursday; an event that has become highly contentious. Many people, both politicians and voters, believe the entire purpose of the Committee was to cause political harm to Clinton’s campaign rather than investigate the events leading up to the attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi on September 11, 2012.
Trump was initially nervous about Clinton’s testimony – but not for the reason many other Republicans were nervous. The Committee had taken quite some heavy blows after members of their own party admitted that the entire motivation behind the investigation into Benghazi was not to discover the truth but to smear Hillary Clinton. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy blatantly admitted to Fox News’s Sean Hannity that the Clinton investigation was part of a Republican “strategy to fight and win” in September. MaCarthy later stated he misspoke, but the damage was done.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”
Following that particular damaging admission, an ex-staffer, who identifies as a conservative Republican, admitted that the Committee’s focus during the investigation was Clinton. Bradley Podliska, an Air Force Reserve Major, claimed he was fired from the panel because rather than focusing solely on Clinton, he advocated for a “broad, objective investigation” into the 2012 attack that resulted in four Americans losing their lives.
Between the two admissions made by members of the Republican party, which Democrats were quick to point to as definitive proof that the Benghazi hearing – the eighth of its kind – is purely political in nature, Trump was worried that Trey Gowdy, chairman of the Committee, would somehow be soft on Clinton.
As Trump told Sean Hannity on Tuesday, he was initially “really looking forward to the hearings” until Gowdy began to attempt damage control around his party’s own members admissions of political motivation, stressing that the Committee was not politically motivated.
“And then yesterday, I watched Trey, who I do respect, I think he’s a terrific guy, but he seemed to be doing a big pivot. He said, ‘Well, this isn’t about Hillary Clinton.’ You know, I’m pretty good at figuring this stuff out, and he seemed to be doing, Sean, I’m sure you saw it, he seemed to be doing a big pivot away from Hillary Clinton. And I was trying to figure out what that was all about.”
So while the majority of Republicans were worried that after months of leading up to Clinton’s testimony at the Benghazi hearing, people would see it as being a politically motivated effort to take down Hillary Clinton.
GOP front-runner Donald Trump was worried that they wouldn’t make the politically motivated effort to take down Hillary Clinton. However, Trump seemed pleased with the job the Committee did while questioning Clinton.
“You know, when I watched Trey Gowdy on, I think it was Face The Nation this weekend, it sounded to me like he was not going to go after her that much, Hugh, because he was sort of saying well, we have other people, and she’s just a small part of it. It sounded to me like he was pulling back. But as I’m hearing it today, they’re not pulling back at all. They’re really going into it, and I’m just hearing she’s looking very bad. Maybe Biden did the wrong thing getting out yesterday.”
And, of course, Trump couldn’t pass up the chance to Tweet about Clinton.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2015
Although Trump believes that Clinton “sounded terrible,” many others believe that yesterday’s hearing did more to damage Republican credibility than anything while placing Clinton herself in a more favorable light. Despite Gowdy’s continued insistence that the Benghazi investigation was to be “factcentric,” the Committee appeared more intent on scolding Clinton rather than exploring the actual events, and in doing so, may have underscored what their opposition has been saying for months – that the entire hearing has been politically motivated. As the New Yorker says, “Clinton has been immersed in politics for decades, and yet the panel managed to make the contrast between her manner and the ways of Washington look stark. She appeared to be a sensible outsider.”
What do you think? Did Clinton’s testimony help or hurt her campaign? And do you believe that the entire hearing has been politically motivated?
[Image credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images]